I wanted to share the intro of an article I’ve written and may publish somewhere soon. Let me know your thoughts….
Storytelling has a mystique about it. The image that immediately comes to mind is of the glowing face of an older man or woman gazing into a fire. Jim Henson’s Storyteller in his big chair in front of the fireplace, his dog listening intently at his feet (or in his lap if the tale is scary enough).
Some assume storytelling is about sitting in front of a room full of children waiting to be entertained. Those who equate “stories” with fairy tales and fables, suited only for kids. Those who don’t understand why Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book or Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories deserve their place in the adult fiction section of the library or bookstore, just as much as they do in the children’s section.
Stories serve more purposes. They are tools to explain lessons learned, to convey experiences across cultures and generations. The paintings in the caves at Lascaux are stories used to tell tales of hunts. We use stories to explain confusing things in our world. Every culture has stories about how the world began that are an effort to the question of “Why are we here?”. Stories allow us to convey important messages and lessons in ways that people will absorb, adopt, and remember. They are a means to showcase what we have in common, while also highlighting differences.
Our brains fill gaps in perception with information, creating story-memories that have a continuous flow across all senses. This allows us to take a bite of an apple and to hear the crunch, taste the fruit, feel the juice, and see the red of the skin at what seems to be the same moment, even though each sense takes a different amount of time to report in the brain.
Just as stories serve more purposes than dictating morals to our children, storytellers have moved away from the fireside, out of the children’s section, off of the bar mitzvah circuit – and into every other part of our lives. Anyone can tell stories.
Like I said, I’d love comments, if you have them, or thoughts on a good venue.