One of my favourite EVER pieces of art (5 mins long)

A Youtube screenshot of Christa Couture and bekky o'neil's movie How To Lose Everything: A Field Guide. An illustration of two women kneeling

“This is what I know – first your heart will break…

You will start by staying in bed. Being awake is the first and hardest thing to get through. You may ache every minute of the hours in between the relief of sleep. The ache will overwhelm you at times. The ache will press on your chest so hard it will be difficult to move. The ache will shake through your body in uncontrollable sobs. The ache will numb you to all feeling. The ache will want to break things. The ache won’t care what does break.

Try to wait.”

The first time I read those words, in early 2020, I was in my home office, tears streaming down my face.

That quote is the opening of the final part of the final chapter of How To Lose Everything by Christa Couture — writer, musician, broadcaster and, co-incidentally, my co-parent (which is how I got to read such an early copy). The rest of her book is a memoir, each chapter about a loss she experienced (cancer; amputation; abortion; death; death; divorce; more cancer — she’s had a few). She is a INCREDIBLE storyteller; she has this gift of being able to show you these really, really hard things, in a way that doesn’t pull you under. One of the reviews of her book talked about how the reviewer didn’t want to read the book at first — too sad. But when they did, they found that it “is actually uplifting.”

The part I want to tell you about today — the part that starts with that passage above — is not the part where she’s telling stories.

right now, your not having clicked display images is denying you a picture of BOOBIES

That might seem like a strange choice, given that I’m supposed to be writing here about how to tell stories. But it’s because this passage — on the page, and on the astonishingly beautiful animation that has just been released on YouTube — does the MOST IMPORTANT thing that our stories do. The thing that I think about every time I even talk about this passage (and, inevitably, cry).

It says, to the right people, the four most powerful words in the English language:

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One of the greatest moments of the last four years.

Screenshot YouTube Video

“I hear what you’re saying.”

He pressed his lips together, and squinted a little in suspicion. “But why? Isn’t that just Misery Porn?”

I was working with my friend Chris on a story he was going to tell at my live show. Chris (who I’ve written about before, here and here) is one of my favourite storytellers of all time, and I’d been excited to sit down with him.

The story is about him reading to his dying mother in hospital. He’d done a version of it at another storytelling show a few weeks before – and there, had played the whole thing for laughs.

As we sat down and talked through the story, I convinced him to pull in the sadness of the situation. To mire us in the grief that he felt, before the funny reveal comes.

Now, he was asking why.

One of the things…

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