If you were to stand in the doorway of my room, you would first look forward and see a big window, dying plant, and a cheap rug. Then you’d look to the left to find my bed, dresser, piano, another cheap rug, and pretty much everything else. You wouldn’t notice much to the right of the doorway because really, there’s only a wall. Not until you walked into my room would you give this wall a second glance. And only then would you notice the one picture hanging on it: a story by Brain Andreas.
Brian Andreas’s “stories” seem more like poems, but nowhere does he deem them so. He also combines each story with illustrations that seem to exist as extensions of the stories. In his fifth book, Hearing Voices Volume 5: Collected Stories & Drawings, Andreas explains that his stories, whether good or bad, come from truly listening to others and to himself. I feel I have taken Andreas’ advice and have truly listened to his story, and as a result, have a better understanding of my stories and those around me.
My first encounter with an Andreas story was through social media. One of my friends posted his story, “Small World:”
“We sat in the car & the night dropped down until the only sounds were the crickets & the dance of our voices & for a moment the world became small enough to roll back & forth between us.”
I felt connected to his words right after reading them. I knew that setting and those sounds and that feeling, but I had never (and would never) be able to articulate such things in the way Andreas does. After figuring out who Andreas is, I found the book to which “Small World” belonged (Hearing Voices) and immediately purchased it. As I read through, I realized that just as much as he told stories of the good, he also told stories of the bad. Somehow, Andreas transformed sad or discouraging topics into stories I found beautiful, making me realize that even our bad stories contain some good.
As a well-trained English major would, I often analyze; however, all too often my analysis skills translate into my every day life. When confronted with a problem, I analyze to find a pattern, which usually helps me find a solution. The problem is, sometimes life doesn’t provide a solution. Andreas understands this, and by listening to his stories, so now do I. Instead of becoming discouraged, I can take a deep breath, know I tried hard, and appreciate all the stories that exist—my own and others, the good and the bad.