Written by Charles Frank

It is an honorable pleasure to wish happy holidays and a bountiful new year on behalf of the Jamwich family to all of our readers and contributors!  I write to you all from the beautiful folds of the Greensboro, North Carolina cityscape where I reside, and I have been so thankful and humbled to be amidst such a strong community and vibrant publication.  As the holiday freight train steams along, and a New Year peeks its brow over the timeless horizon, I encourage everyone to focus on the gift of life, existence, and togetherness.  However, I also recognize the difficulties that this season can bring upon people.  The omnipresent stress of transition is prevalent, separation from loved ones due to physical or metaphysical means can spawn feelings of loneliness and depression, and those feelings can manifest themselves negatively during a time of year in which cheeriness is expected.  It is with this in mind that I want to encourage everyone be mindful of the importance of mental wellness and stability as 2017 shuts its’ doors and 2018 breaks.  Fear not, for this is not an elongated way of delivering the bland and fruitless “just stay positive” remark that haunts depression’s grip, but is a short personal antidote about a technique I use to ensure wellness in my own life: the art of storytelling (I see you Slick Rick).

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most successful ways to transcend generation, instill tradition, and demonstrate meaning to others.  It illuminates commonalities people may share, and also celebrates diversity and difference.  Of course ,in our Jamwich community, we are all familiar with storytelling as an art form, as we see it from our heralded bands on stage, in the imagery from our visual artists, and in the pages of our writers in publications like this one.  However, storytelling can be a cornerstone facet of individual, peer-to-peer life as well.  Storytelling creates laughter; it opens the potential for transformative dialogue, and builds bridges of empathy that are so vital to understanding one another.  This understanding facilitates mental wellness in all walks of life, from the depths of the campground circles at your favorite festival, to the living room with your comrades.  Sharing experience is a treasure trove of mental wellness that has gotten me through some of the most challenging parts of my life, and I implore you all to think about it in this regard moving forward.  I was in college when I first became attracted to storytelling as a critical function of wellness.  Communicating meaning, personal experience and emotion are all products of storytelling. Some of the looming questions and fixations in my head have always been “what is my place, is my life meaningful, is it impactful, am I alone?”  Not being able to answer these questions wholly contributed to immense feelings of pointlessness, of loneliness, and of pain.  I now make an effort to appreciate conversation as a luxury, to tell a story even if it seems mundane, and to recognize the uniqueness of existence and the ability to find commonplace with others through communication of experience.  It is with this in mind that I want to encourage our readers to tell their story when depression onsets.  When the show is over, when the Monday blues after Lockn’ begin, when the grit of life, of job, and of loss take place…tell a story.

Communication binds us all as people, and as the RZA once so prophetically stated, “we all we got.”  It is normal to feel abnormal; it is human to feel alone in the valley, staring at the mountain.  Go out and communicate with those close to you, make an effort to tell a tale to a stranger, bask in the conversation that diversity of experience can incite.  When you feel lost, recognize that you have a place as the sole purveyor of your own narrative, and that your narrative is valuable.  None of us are without value; none of us are truly alone when we precede ourselves with story.  Be good to yourselves, be well, and as the snow crests the pines, know that we are together.  If you have a story you’d like to tell, please email me at unclejohnsbone@gmail.com.  I’m grateful to have been able to tell some stories through the pages of this magazine in 2017, and I look forward to more discourse in the New Year.  PS: in regards to wellness, a healthy dose of Jerry Garcia music never hurt anyone either.