As summer marches along in all its blazing glory, my thoughts are drawn to Fall and the 2013 semester schedule of courses posted online. Yikes…it seems like Spring semester just ended! I wonder…should I look or continue to resist? Reality jolts me. I get it – I’d better find some time to review, consider, and select a few course now…otherwise, all the fun and fascinating ones will quickly fill up – and I’ll be left on the stoop sitting out the semester.
Each Spring and Fall, I nestle into my chair to begin an hour-long immersion and bond with my computer screen. The process of exploring, unfolding, and pondering courses that might intrigue and inspire can, at times, be dizzifying. Living in a college community and having access to the academic arena provides such an amazing opportunity to learn and share. I don’t want to miss out even though, at times, the many choices can overwhelm…as so many subjects and topics push my imagination to dance in anticipation.
One course, in particular, that consistently calls out to me is Fairy Tales of Russia. Reading the description for this course naturally moved me reflect not only about fairy tales but on the art of storytelling in general – myths, legends, fables, corporate histories, executive profiles, etc.
As depicted in the definition shared on Wikipedia incredible power exists within the act of storytelling.
Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, cultural preservation, and to instill moral values.
This definition resonates and aligns with my own personal experience. As a child, I was raised in a home filled with captivating “real life” stories – stories that flowed from the lives and lips of immigrant grandparents and their children – my mom, dad, aunts and uncles. As I recall, one grandfather was a bard or minstrel – essentially an entertainer who read poetry and performed comic skits, variety acts, dance routines and music. He, along with his troupe, traveled the countryside being hired by towns, organizations, and nobility to perform at all kinds of special occasions. Of course, my Mom was adamant about pointing out that this grandfather’s background might provide some explanation for or insight into my natural claim to humor – and my ability (even at an early age) to coax smiles from those around me. The story of my other grandfather courting and falling in love with my grandmother also fascinated me. Both were young immigrants trying to make a living in a New York City hotel while sorting through and learning the best way to assimilate into their new culture. Although curious, I couldn’t bring myself to ask my Mom if it might be possible that the genes from that side of the family could explain my romantic tendencies…hmmm?
As these stories were told (and later during the day and evening), I would close my eyes and allow the imagery of the story to awaken my imagination and surround me. Within seconds, visions of grandparents I never knew or met came into full view. I could feel – even now – the tingle of curiosity and pride surge through every body part. These people were my family – my past – my sense of purpose, meaning, and identity – my lineage and heritage – all brought to life through the simple art of storytelling.
Over the years, as these stories continued to be told (and re-told) at family gatherings and other friendly events, I never stopped listening intently. Somehow I felt responsible for ensuring that the person recounting the story stuck to “the truth” (as I had first heard it). Being a stickler for details and consistency, I planned to single-handedly ensure they “got it right.” Each family member insisted upon assuring me that I “needn’t worry”…as “the basics of the story provides solid truth…however, as the story continues to be told and re-told throughout the years, you (I) might notice slight alterations (or embellishments) that may have been ‘crafted’ to ‘hold the listener’s attention’.”
At first, I was uncomfortable with the story being embellished. However, as time progressed, I discovered that slight twists and turns in the telling of these stories didn’t seem to matter that much anymore. What did matter, though, was that these stories were mine – they helped bring my past into my present and laid the foundation for my future. They help me clarify and better understand who I am, where (and from whom) I had come, and how I might have acquired those quirky, interesting (?) behaviors (ie. testing my voice in the shower or trying to inspire smiles – even laughter – throughout my day).
Storytelling, to me, is endlessly intriguing…so, it would be easy to immerse myself in the telling and retelling of history, great tales, and much more. So, to ensure I don’t get too far off course from my primary interest, I’ve included a couple of videos that offer an enchanting and entertaining perspective on the history of storytelling… and will share more next time on storytelling within business and nonprofit settings.
© 2013 EMCarlock
The Write Resources, LLC™ – www.the-write-resources.com