More stories, please
Sunday night I attended What’s Your Story – The Sequel. Thank you, Barry Smith for realizing this project, and thank you to the storytellers: Ray Adams, Naomi Havlen, Su Lum, John Masters, Mitzi Rapkin and Lorenzo Semple III. Your stories were spellbinding, moving, funny, poignant and reflective. You took us into your lives with such composure.
Listening to another’s story is an opportunity to walk in their shoes, even to see facets of one’s own life reflected in the lives of another. It is compassion building. Telling the personal story is a brave event and the more powerful for the risk taken.
I am heartened and hopeful for humanity when any of us gracefully offers something of ourselves. It is grace that lets us laugh at our mistakes, misfortunes, missteps, roads we’ve taken because we thought they led to something other than where they took us; joyrides that turned tragic, marriages that couldn’t contain the people inside them, and heartaches that heal into scars, perhaps no longer tender to the touch. The stories Sunday night held elements of these human experiences, as well as lessons learned and wisdom gained. They were stories thoughtfully crafted and artfully told.
I’m a Spellbinder, trained by that fine organization here in the valley. I tell stories mostly to elementary school children who immediately know the value of stories. My peers and I sometimes joke that we are treated like rock stars when we come to classrooms each month. Such is the power of stories. Children are hungry for the imaginary worlds we bring with our words and gestures.
What’s Your Story filled a tent. Storytellers, without props or script, held an adult audience spellbound, suggesting we never lose the hunger to be taken into other worlds with just the human voice. Maybe we even imagine ourselves there on the stage, telling a part of the story each of us surely carries within. I know I imagine that. Listening to people in my own community makes that seem possible, and the craft and art I practice in classrooms will allow me to do that one day.
I’m writing to thank Sunday night’s storytellers, and also acknowledge what every Spellbinder and storyteller knows; that within each well-crafted story, myth and legend are threads weaving together our humanity with examples of strength and weakness, compassion, honor and error, ethical integrity, betrayal, foibles and mischief. Storytelling is how we have taught each other to be human and strong and resourceful and wise and kind and respectful and to laugh, since the beginning of time all over the world.
I am proud to live in a community that honors the spoken and written word, and provides places where we collectively tell and listen to each other. As long as we continue this timeless practice, humanity will have heart and the stuff to survive and thrive, in a world continually changing and challenging each of us in our own particular storied way.
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