Heart-Lifting for Disheartening Times – Storytelling is SHARING

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!

S – Storytelling is SHARING

ANY/ALL storytelling is SHARING. Can’t be helped!

Regardless of story plot or content or theme or setting, storytelling is a SHARED experience by listeners and tellers (while experienced in different ways by them).

Storytelling does not happen without listeners/watchers/audience. See Storytelling Triangle graphic at left. (It’s a bit mis-labeled as “Story Triangle” in the image – ”story” fits the available space better than “storytelling”…)

A movie can be run without anyone in the theater (it’s still a movie). A novel can be written and on your shelf without anyone ever reading it (it’s a work of literary art/writing, regardless). Both painters and dancers can express and experience deep satisfaction in creating in their respective art forms, and it’s possible that no one at all might witness or receive their art – it would still be a painting and it would still be a dance.

But the art of oral storytelling DOES NOT HAPPEN WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE TO SHARE IT WITH!

I can (and must!) rehearse on my own for hours, days, weeks – but without an audience to SHARE it with, it’s only preparation for storytelling. (*It can be really helpful to have a “practice audience” to “listen the story out of me,” to help me experience and practice with those dynamics that do occur when there is an audience – because with an audience, co-creation happens.)

As teller and audience SHARE the space and the time and the story, the unique experience of oral storytelling is created!

There is a gray area, and one that we’ve experienced explosively during the pandemic when we’ve had to learn how to use and rely on digital aids while we’re all distanced from each other – that of recording an oral story, for the video to be available afterwards for viewing.

When I look at that little camera under the Post-It Note arrow on my computer and tell a story, I “channel my inner Mr. Rogers” and imagine that there is someone right there, that the little camera hole is my conduit to deliver the story to listeners.

I must imagine a listener/watcher to whom I’m delivering the story…but of course I get zero response. No smiles or knitted brows before me, no laughter or side comments to respond to, no body language for me to gauge whether they are enraptured or disconnected or what…so I can’t modify in any way what I am doing and offering to themwhich is at the very essence of storytelling!

– Not just rote reciting – but engaging with, responding to, and SHARING the creation of the experience with the listener(s)!

It’s perhaps the most profound beauty and power of storytelling – SHARING. 

Thanks for  reading – Pam

Top photo by Markus Winkler; picnic photo by Brett Jordan; sharing-with-deer photo by Daiga Ellaby – all on Unsplash. Storytelling Triangle image from my files. Laptop+Post-It Note photo by Pam Faro.