Storytelling is an ancient art. Once upon a time, humans relied on the spoken word to pass down information about origins, about beliefs and cultural identity. Nowadays, we have books, e-readers, podcasts, live theatre, social media, scrapbooking, television, documentaries, newspapers, magazines, all dedicated to telling stories. Some are “true” and some are “fiction” and most are comprised of a little of both.
On a recent cross-country road trip, I was able to reconnect with the power of story in the form of podcasts. My partner and I were all set to travel thousands of miles– without a functioning CD player. In the car trips of my youth, we’d put on special compilation cassette tapes and sing along to the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, the Guess Who?, and other favorites to help pass the miles. Without CDs or tapes to rely on, my partner came up with a plan to download podcasts for those times when the mountains or weather interfered with radio signals. (And honestly, who really wants to listen to the corn and soybean reports between songs?) One particular podcast caught our attention; it’s called The Moth (http://themoth.org) and it highlights individuals telling their stories. Some were humorous, some were serious, all were touching. While listening, I couldn’t help but feel like I had met these people.
Storytelling can facilitate connection and compassion. Maybe I’m just biased. Being a counselor, I get to spend the day listening to stories. Even so, the value of this basic behavior continues to surprise me.
How is “story” important in your life? Who is the keeper of stories in your family or social circle? If you are wanting to infuse a little more story, a little more imagination in your day-to-day, consider trying one of these for starters:
Select a picture and make up who the person is, what he or she is thinking, and what happened before that image was captured.
Interview someone about a favorite memory.
Write a letter to a higher power, to an old friend, to your ancestors, to someone in the future.
With a friend, tell the story of your day using a nonsense language.
Take turns with others writing in a blank notebook, leaving some sentences incomplete for the next person to finish. Send it across the country to include distant friends and relatives
Make a family myth (i.e. “How the Jones’ got curly hair” or “Why we do what we do”).
Don’t worry about coming up with something good enough to publish or broadcast. The value is in the process, not just the product, though you may be surprised at the results! Give us more ideas and let us know how it goes by leaving comments below.
If you want to talk more about how to make your story or the importance of storytelling in your life, contact Janice through this webpage.