Have you ever experienced a piece of storytelling so close to the truth it hurts?
Growing up, I didn't realise not all families have ten loud conversations simultaneously over the dinner table, or that it isn't a joke we probably need plastic cups to drink from because we're gesturing so wildly (read: passionately).
Nor did I realise not everyone uses Windex to cure everything under the sun that could possibly be wrong with you. I mean, what else do people use for pimples?
That is, until My Big Fat Greek Wedding graced our screens.
My friends and teachers suddenly had a rather huge insight into my daily life. But I was too young to appreciate the hilariousness of the film. Instead, I was humiliated, mortified and suddenly all too horribly aware that my family was very different.
Truth Bombs in Storytelling
It is the beauty of storytelling itself, that it can reveal to us more about ourselves than we ever thought possible. It drops truth bombs on us from every angle, which explode just when it's most inconvenient. Or rather, just when we need them most.
You can't run or hide from good storytelling. It will scream your flaws over a loudspeaker to an audience of millions.
The flaw that this film revealed in me was not in the craziness of my Greek family, it was in not seeing the true beauty of the craziness of my Greek family.
It took me the rest of my teenage years, but the next time I saw the film, I realised what I had feared from the people who laughed at my family for their loud, impassioned Greek way of living. That these wonderful people who lived every moment of their lives with such vibrancy and colour would be seen as... over the top.
I was suddenly so angry at myself. How terrible a person had I become, that I would push the richest blessing of an intensely loving family away, because I didn't want to be labelled as 'dramatic'?
I know now what would have happened had I not had that storytelling truth bomb dropped on my life. I would have missed the simple beauty of pure happiness behind their loud dramatic laughs, the intense love of life behind the huge, squeezing, enveloping hugs and the extraordinary generosity behind the ability to stop by unannounced and you'll be fed with cake and biscuits and pasta and you'll be fed it three times, and there won't be any arguing with that.
Storytelling is more than special. It is intimate and revealing and harrowing and heart-wrenchingly difficult to overcome once its message has fixed its claws into you. But what it gave me was the Big Fat Greek meaning of life—it taught me that love is wide and deep and complicated but most of all, it is everything.
Storytelling makes us human. Jesus was a great teller of stories—revealing the truth of who we are, and who we are created to be.
So I won't be avoiding My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 when it is released this year. I will be running to see it and I will be sure to laugh louder and more dramatically than anyone else there.
And yes. There will probably be baklava.
Talisa Pariss is the coordinator of the school-based Louder Theatre Company, teaching drama, communication skills and confidence to kids. When she's not pretending for a living, she can be found indulging in any kind of creativity she can get her hands on.
Talisa Pariss' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/talisa-pariss.html