August 19, 2008, 10:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Erin, Featured  | 6 Comments

Watching CNN, I recently caught the tail end of a spot about a legend — or maybe not a legend — that I originally learned about from Chloe. Any guesses? Am I being too vague?

It was the chupacabra (“goat sucker” in English), apparently captured on video by a few policemen in Cuero, Texas. My initial reaction was to call Chloe, probably wake her up, and shout, “You were right! There is a chupacabra!” into her phone. But I\’m not quite that cruel, and besides, the last chupacabra-ish creature that was found in the Southwest turned out to be a mutant coyote — and this one hasn\’t yet been caught.

The whole thing got me thinking about the importance that legends — myths, folklore, old wives\’ tales — play in any society. I know next to nothing about the origin of the chupacabra legend, nor its significance in society today, but it seems to be lodged rather comfortably in the collective consciousness of the people of the Southwest. Could it be that legends are simply ways that we add spice to our history?

History, a controversial term and topic in and of itself, is never exactly what is related to us. There is always more than one side to a story; as I have read recently, “the right story, the whole story, and the true story are very often not all the same thing.” Legends provide us with an outlet for our creativity, our doubt, and our suspicions that what we perceive with our senses may not be exactly what is real.

To continue the cooking metaphor (which some of you know I am very fond of and almost cannot use without hand gestures), the spice added by legend, whether based in fact or fiction, is essential to create what we are in the present. In world history classes students learn of ”˜creation myths\’ from a variety of cultures. Our fascination with our origins, our surroundings, and the unknown in general has certainly made us adept at creating stories to satisfy it.

While many may dismiss stories, myths, or legends as unworthy of belief, let me remind you that belief in something is not the same as enjoying its color, or savoring the emotion, curiosity, or wonder it conjures. I don\’t believe in Santa Claus, or the giant alligators in New York City sewers, or perhaps even the chupacabra, but theirs is not an arena for belief. It\’s an arena for story.


6 Comments to “Legends”

  1. David on August 20th, 2008 9:08 am

    It looked like a dog to me.

  2. aaron.guest on August 20th, 2008 1:04 pm

    I had to watch it twice. I was looking for a ghost kicking up dust next to that running dog.

    Legends may or may not be tied to history. Legends, I suppose one could argue, come out of history herself. I enjoy legends myself, especially the latest Bigfoot hoax. I agree we suffuse myths and legends into daily life because, for as much as time and history repeats — the same mistakes, the same joys, the same routines– legends alot for the inherent mystery still present in the world. It keeps alive a hope which is a shadow, a corner of a greater hope. We know Santa isn’t real, that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, but we hope that one day we will run into them. Oh if I could see a unicorn. The world is a long Saturday sometimes and legends and myths keep us looking forward that Sunday morning.

    And remember Mr. Tumnus’ book: Is Man A Myth?

  3. Connie Maxon on August 20th, 2008 4:23 pm

    The latest bigfoot hoax turned out to be an old rubber gorilla suit. I wanted to believe those guys in Georgia, too. They sounded soooo sincere. Maybe because it wasn’t their Magilla suit? Nah!

    Oh and I just read where they found a unicorn, but it turned out it was just a deformed goat. So you’ve gotta ask yourself, how magical does the legend have to be?

    My kitty, Gracie can stretch all the way out backwards while you’re holding her and purrs so loud you can hear her through walls. And she still can knock the sense out of dog if he comes too close to her Special Kitty Super Supper.

    Beat that Big Foot…

  4. Djere on August 21st, 2008 10:06 am

    I don’t know, team…

    That ‘dog’ had an enormous head.

  5. David on August 21st, 2008 4:54 pm

    Like a pitbull?

  6. Chloe on August 24th, 2008 2:59 am

    You get a big pot…

    Dang it, Erin, I miss you so much.

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