Heart-Lifting for Disheartening Times – Storytelling Uniquely Helps Us REMEMBER

It’s all so overwhelming and it seems everyone is tired, discouraged, maybe angry or cynical or depressed, maybe confused or disheartened…just weary.
Each day during this April A-Z Blogging Challenge I’ll offer a short musing on an aspect or two of the many ways the ancient-yet-very-contemporary experience of storytelling – both listening and telling – is an enjoyable, fortifying and heart-lifting practice, for anyone!

R – Storytelling Uniquely Helps Us REMEMBER

It seems that everybody knows about the Titanic – the terrible tragedy of that storied ship’s sinking in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. Rich and famous society folks and hundreds and hundreds of hopeful immigrants alike sunk to their deaths. It was a major historical event that kids learn about in school, and that countless books and papers have been written about. And maybe you’ve seen the blockbuster movie.

For me, it’s also a family story – the story of my great-uncle who was one of the few 3rd-class male passengers to survive the disaster – and one that I’ve prepared and told professionally for 30 years as “Uncle Olaus Survives the Titanic.”

And there’s something about storytelling – a person telling the story orally to listeners in real time – that engages and brings it all the more to life, to help us REMEMBER.

Consider…

  • After the 1997 movie came out, I had more bookings that following year to TELL my Great-Uncle Ole’s story than ever! – People wanted to hear me REMEMBER and tell them, face-to-face, the personal story of that historical event, so THEY could experience and better REMEMBER.
  • When Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (currently in Orlando and Las Vegas) came to the Denver Museum of Nature and History, in addition to the hundreds of fascinating artifacts and engaging narratives and activities the traveling exhibition offers, the museum booked me to TELL my great-uncle’s story for several performances throughout the exhibition’s run! – People wanted to hear me REMEMBER and tell them, face-to-face, the personal story of that historical event, so THEY could experience and REMEMBER.
  • In 2012, the 100th anniversary of the tragedy, the Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling Festival booked me to travel all the way across the Atlantic to TELL the story multiple times during the festival! – People wanted to hear me REMEMBER and tell them, face-to-face, the personal story of that historical event, so THEY could experience and REMEMBER.

It’s powerful.

Movies and museums are wonderful; I love them; we can learn and enjoy so much.

But storytelling – face-to face – carries a unique power to REMEMBER and share.

Thanks for reading – Pam

An important PS…

Most traditional stories (folktales, etc., as differentiated from personal or historical stories) tell of “the human condition,” showing characters who live out the same hopes and dreams and foibles and challenges that we all do – that’s key to how and why traditional stories are perennially meaningful and entertaining – AND…they can also show us and help us to REMEMBER (or learn!) aspects of life “back then” (telling of the life of a village cobbler, for example, or how women had to spin and weave and sew all a family’s clothing, etc.). And they help us to REMEMBER the deep appeal of “Once upon a time…”

Photos of Titanic and of Ole Abelseth are from my files…photographer credits lost to the mists of time… Titanic poster photo by Pam Faro. Loom photo by Nicholas Nikolic on Unsplash.