“It is this beautiful multiplicity of tellings, this unending continuum of change on which the survival of our story rests, not merely the tellings of one or two or five individuals. I tell the Saguaro Story in the manner I know it best, and though my telling is an important part of the story, it is no more or less important to the survival of our story than the telling of another. Is any one beat of a drum more or less important to a rhythm, or any one note of song more or less important to a melody or harmony? Imagine a chorus of song that never ends but also never repeats in precisely the same way. That is our story. You will always recognize the melody being sung and the rhythm beating behind it, but will never hear the same fleeting verse twice. Do you understand?”
“You are lost,” the speaker repeated, “but not simply because you no longer recognize the signs of the land around you, or the traces of a path you left in coming. You are lost because you have not yet learned how to listen to the story that these signs and traces tell. At your home, you use many signs to orient yourself to your world, to recognize the setting of the story of your life. Yet you are not aware of the story these signs tell. Like a word without a verse, you see the tall saguaro near the favorite spot at home where you often sit and play, wearing its cluster of red flowers atop like a crooked hat, but you do not comprehend it. When you see it from afar, you use it to measure the paces home; it tethers you to the center of your story. But today you have traveled so far that you cannot see that saguaro, or any of the others you have come to know. This is, you think, why you feel lost. But no matter how many tall saguaros with crooked-flower hats you place in your story, you will always be at risk of stumbling beyond their range, and into places where you feel lost.