Hooray! Hooray! It’s Storytelling Day!
Ira Glass once said, ‘Great stories happen to those who can tell them.’
This is certainly true of my own experience as a storyteller.
Though oral storytelling is an art form, arguably the oldest, it extends far beyond imaginative and creative self-expression.
Storytelling is innate within us all - it's primal, communal. Everyone, including the teller, belongs in the space in which a story is shared and benefits from that shared experience. Although there is a performance aspect present, true storytelling is about the relationship that is created and the connections it facilitates.
Storytelling connects us to those who have journeyed long before us
Stories help us to laugh and cry; to express joy and to give voice to grief. They bring healing and clarity, understanding and decisiveness. They can help us to honour the past, have courage in the present, and move us forward. Stories ask as many questions as they answer. They can influence as well as entertain; turn wisecracks into wisdom, help us discern how to love, live and forgive.
Storytelling connects us to those who have journeyed long before us. It connects us to our shared experiences, to ourselves and to each other.
That’s what I love most about storytelling: those moments of transcendence beyond the telling and the tale. The undeniable and indescribable privilege of creating a sigh the spirit can inhabit.
Storytelling may be entertaining, it may be enriching but - more than anything - it is essential to all that it is to be human. Stories are, perhaps, more of a heart-form than an art form.
How do we, therefore, quantify the benefits of storytelling? Measure the impact of something so seemingly ethereal and otherworldly? ‘Judge’ its merits in terms of funding and resources in public life and personal place in our own daily lives?
Stories are, perhaps, more of a heart-form than an art form.
These are huge questions and this is a little blog post. Perhaps it would be useful, and affirming, to reflect on how the sharing of stories at every age and stage has made an impact on you. How has storytelling helped to:
- Improve your communication and people skills (speaking, listening, participation in community)?
- Enhance your experience of education and literacy?
- Sharpen your memory and given you a framework for remembering?
- Increase your understanding and comprehension?
- Encourage your creativity and helped you to express yourself?
- Become more aware of your own culture, roots, life stories and those of others?
- Develop skills in self-discovery, emotional literacy and the ability to make sense or meaning of your life?
- Strengthen your capacity for deeper thinking, observation, empathy and qualities like wisdom, courage and honesty?
These are all enriching and transformational benefits of storytelling.
Today is World Storytelling Day 2017. The theme for this year is Transformation. May you gather with those you love and share stories that will continue to shape who you are for many years to come. And remember, ‘great stories happen to those who tell them.’