Once upon a time, JustHusband and I took my family out to see Hidden Figures: my Mom, my Dad, and my Auntie.
The five of us piled into my parents’ small car, because the big car wouldn’t start. Auntie, who is just over 6′ tall, sat in the front. JustHusband, who is almost as tall as Auntie, sat in the middle, his legs all folded up like a praying mantis. (It’s a good thing he’s so bendy.)
Auntie walks with a cane and has difficulty climbing stairs, so when we got to the theatre we sat at the front, in the seats specifically designed for accessibility.
Though I usually prefer to sit near the back of the theatre, those seats were perfect for me, too. A couple of weeks ago, I slipped and fell on the ice and really banged up my knee. So, I hadn’t been looking forward to climbing stairs at the theatre, especially in the dark.
Anyway, I’m not going to tell you the story of the movie, because you should already know what it is. (If you don’t, go look it up. Right now. I can wait.)
What I am going to tell you is a story about stories.
We all already know lots of stories. We know stories about fairytale characters like Cinderella and Snow White. We know stories about famous people like Brad and Angelina.1 We know stories about people who do positive things in their lives, and stories about people who don’t.
We also all know our own stories. We know the stories that make us look good, and the ones that make us feel bad. There are stories where we are the main character, and ones where we are just part of the crowd. We have stories that belong to everyone in our community, and stories that are ours alone.
Stories are part of what makes us human. There are people who even believe that we are human because we have stories. Whether they are true – and there are some people who would say that all stories are true – stories are fundamental to our understanding of ourselves and others. Stories are so powerful, they can literally change the world. But do you know what else is powerful?
Untold stories are powerful because they, too, affect us. The story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson had an enormous impact on our lives but, until now, the only people who knew that story were the ones who had already lived it. But when an untold story is finally told, its power is far greater than it would have been initially.1
This tells me that there is a clamour – a hunger, even – for untold stories. It tells me that we humans know, instinctively, that the stories we don’t know about are the ones we most need to hear.
Think about that for a minute. (Right now. I can wait.)
What is the story you don’t know about? What is the story you most need to hear? Go out and find it. Better yet, go out and tell it.2
I know my family is glad that the story of “Hidden Figures” was told outside of those who already knew it.
Because of who we are (nerds), the colour of our skin (except for JustHusband, but I don’t hold that against him, obvs. 😉 ), and when we came of age (collectively, a 50-year span covering WWII, the space race, the heyday of Canadian multiculturalism, and the advent of global Benetton-ism), “Hidden Figures” is also kind of our story, too.
After the movie, we piled back into the car and went out for dinner. (I’m sure JustHusband was glad the ride was short.) Mom became best friends with our server3, and I confirmed that I’ve inherited at least some of Dad’s artistic talent:
At the end of the evening, my family dropped me and JustHusband off at the subway station then headed back home to suburbia, all of us feeling the kind of contentment that comes from spending quality time with family.
I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next, but I will anyway:
We all lived happily ever after.
1 This is one reason I think Hidden Figures is receiving such critical acclaim and kicking butt at the box office.
2 After the movie, with wonder in his voice and bewilderment on his face, my dad said to me, “I don’t remember hearing anything about this back then.” To which I replied, “I know, Dad. That’s the point.”
3 This may have had something to do with the fact that her margarita was a double.