Debbie Millman says that after years of offering her workshop on visual storytelling all over the world she has found that there are two main stories: of love or of loss/longing.
I have told myself and others that I am not much of a storyteller. That is both true and false. We are, as humans, all storytellers. I do not see myself as someone who relates stories well or with great relish.
A title I do claim, however, is listener. Listening is my wheelhouse and making sense of the stories people share feels like a calling.
So when a loved one I have not seen in several years takes the time to tell me parts of her story I never knew, I listen intently.
I learn about myself when I hear you tell me about yourself. My response to your story tells its own story. What you choose to share reveals another story about trust and intimacy. As I listen I become a part of your next stories.
I notice how age calls us to learn our stories by repeating them over and over. We tell the same story in different contexts to show that we know our own minds. We tell the same stories to confirm not only who we are but that we are. Often, the truth and the story do not need each other as much as we think they do.
Not every situation demands a retelling. That is a blessing.
If you listen, you may be surprised to hear which story your own voice is eager to tell.
To create a story from scratch, to build a world far from my own strikes me as by near impossible. I am grateful to the artists who manage it, who demonstrate what’s possible. I sit close and listen.
I began this post while I was still elsewhere but now I'm here, I'm back, I've returned. Re-turn, to turn again. Where I find myself without knowing exactly what I'm looking for. A moment passes and instantly we traffic in the past. What came before is neither news nor novelty, it's memory - unreliable and fuzzy, a liquid relic in a leaky container. A jumble of instances, experiences within and without, so much to remember and forget. Re-member, to piece together again. An instinct with difficulty, this process. I am back and I remember. I return and tell myself stories. I am here in the now and it is already past. I return and pave the way to forget.
Story requires permission, right? Along the way to becoming it is subject to decision-making. The storyteller makes the rules.
What I hope you’ll hear could not be farther from my control. I release a story to the wind and its landing will always be a form of mystery. Understand: a feature, not a bug.
Author of fragments, assembler of impressions, writer/unwriter.
I’m back, I’ve returned and the exquisite dilemma of expression teases me with its dance.
5 thoughts on “Story and Maybe Not”
This was so beautiful a storytelling journey. In fact, you are as much an excellent storyteller as you are a listener.
That is such a generous and kind response! Thank you so much!
Thank you for sharing this. As always, reading your writing gets me thinking in unexpected ways.
Your prose -poetry near the end is nourishment for deep contemplation. Absolutely beautiful… and a little frightening.
I experience you a quintessential story teller. I’m holding the ideas around listening and storytelling. I suppose you can’t be the latter without the listening. Jahari Window embedded here.
I agree with everyone else — you are indeed a storyteller, my friend. You have a gift for crafting gently shaped but deep-hearted story from the life around you, and finding the meaning in the stories that enrich your world.