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Reflections: On Storytelling…

27/02/2012
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“I think that instinct, that storytelling instinct, rescued me most of my life.” Armistead Maupin

Reflections: On Storytelling...

The Red Moon by Pedro Pablo Sacristán
There was once a little grey planet that was very sad. The people living there hadn’t looked after it, despite them having all the inventions and space ships you could ever need. They had contaminated the whole countryside so much with rubbish and pollution that there were no plants or animals left.
One day, a little boy was walking on the planet, when he passed a cave and noticed a small red flower inside. The flower was very sick – almost dying – so the boy carefully dug up the flower, with roots, soil and everything. Then, he started looking for a place where he could look after it. He searched all over the planet, but everywhere was so contaminated that there was no place the flower could possibly live in. Then he looked up at the sky and noticed the moon. It seemed to the boy that maybe the plant could survive there.
So the little boy put on his astronaut suit, and climbed into a space ship. He put the little red flower in the back, and off they went to the moon.
Far away from all that pollution – and with the boy visiting it every day to tend it – the flower started to grow. The flower was so well cared for, that it had soon germinated, giving birth to others, and these other flowers spread onto other flowers. Before long, the whole moon was completely covered with flowers. That’s why, whenever the little boy’s flowers open up, for a few minutes the moon takes on a soft red sheen, like a warning light. Maybe it’s telling us that if we don’t look after our planet, a day will come when flowers will only be able to grow on the moon.

Most of us grew up listening to others tell us stories about places we could only imagine and people we never met. When we got old enough to read, we inhaled stories written by others and, with time, added our voices to the mix. I love stories as they offer a way to share important messages about our values, dreams, and fears. Stories provide a window to the soul, fuel the creative spirit, and help us sort through life’s confusions for solutions… We also use them as a form of escapism; a way to nullify the unpleasantness around us and re-imagine a better, brighter, even bigger world. For every story we hear or read, there is a version recreated in our minds; reshaped by our memory bank to help us remember it. Stories can be a lifeline to memory, healing and creative exploration. Where do you find your stories?

Storytelling is an ancient and honorable act. An essential role to play in the community or tribe. It’s one that I embrace wholeheartedly and have been fortunate enough to be rewarded for.” Russell Banks

Reflections: On Storytelling... Androcles

AndroclesAesop’s Fables
A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat from which to live. But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor, surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon the slave was pardoned and freed, and the Lion let loose to his native forest. Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

It is not surprising that as kids we lapped up stories, regaled our friends with our own ditties, and flew away on imaginary unicorns to our own private fantastical island. Most of us heard stories from our grandparents, parents, uncles/aunts, caregivers, teachers and friends and then we invented our own. As a child, I had the habit of asking people to tell me a story or read me one. I would curl up on an armchair or lean against the back of a mud hut, close my eyes and take in every bit of a story shared. I would create images to correspond with the stories and lose myself in that fantasy. Fortunately for me, storytelling was an important part of the cultural fabric of the community I grew up in. It was exhilarating to sit and listen to a dramatic story unfold and I’d occasionally skip a meal for a good story. I still love a good story and have shared a few in this post. What memories do you have of storytelling? More below! 😉

“A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter.” Reynolds Price

Reflections: On Storytelling... Special chest

The Queen’s Journey by Pedro Pablo Sacristán
A young Queen was given a special present from a great wizard. It was a magic chest which would bring happiness to the whole kingdom whenever it was opened in a place where there was a spirit of generosity.
The Queen traveled all over her kingdom, looking for the most generous people. When she had collected them all, she opened the magic chest. However, nothing whatsoever happened.
That was, until one day when, returning to her castle, the Queen saw a poor little boy begging. The Queen would have given the boy some money, but she didn’t have any with her. So the boy asked her if she could give him the old chest she had, so he could sell it for a little money, in town. At first the Queen hesitated, because she had been told the chest was magic. But on seeing how poor the boy was, she gave it to him. The boy took the chest and opened it.
Immediately, all the most wonderful things one could imagine started flying out of the chest, accompanied by the sound of singing: “Why look for it in others? Goodness always starts in yourself”, went the song.
And as well as enjoying all the wonders of the magic chest, the Queen learned to set an example in virtue, and she became the best Queen ever to reign over that kingdom.

As we get older, we accumulate a treasure trove, for some a war chest, of stories that we lived and/or learned during our lifetime. It is important to pass these stories down to our loved ones and continue the oral tradition of sharing and collecting personal narratives, folktales, fairytales, mythology, legends, fables and more. I still look for stories to share with my family and have written a few too… What’s your story?

What about you? What are your thoughts? Where do you find your stories? What memories do you have of storytelling? What type of stories do you enjoy? Do you read out loud to others or to yourself? Do share! Thank you. 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: Find your stories, nurture them and share them… In storytelling, there is healing, creation and rejuvenation. Spend some time there.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Millias StorytellingAndrocles, Jewelry casket, via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

40 Comments leave one →
  1. t.on.air permalink
    28/02/2012 12:40 am

    My thoughts are always random things. In terms of storytelling, I’d say my grandparents. They were wonderful storytellers. Their stories might not be true sometimes but there was always a personal touch in them. Thanks for the questiosn.

    • 01/03/2012 9:30 pm

      Thank you for bringing this up. My grandparents were great story tellers too and I suspect some of them were embellished. It made the stories all the richer. In this fast paced world of tech savvy kids, less time is spent on the oral tradition of sharing stories… a real shame. TY for stopping in. 😉

  2. 28/02/2012 2:40 am

    Reblogged this on Milenanik3's Blog and commented:
    amazing as usual

    • 01/03/2012 9:31 pm

      TY for your kind support and feedback… I’d love to read some of your writings too. Do share. 😉

  3. 28/02/2012 2:49 am

    Sitting in the backyard with my cousins, especially on nights lit by the moon, with older family members telling us duppy (ghost) stories and being scared to go inside alone, even when I felt sleepy. Listening to my grandmother tell me stories from the ‘old days’ or my mother tell me the stories she heard when she was growing up with her siblings.
    Magical, fantastical, outlandish, they always transported me to someplace else. I draw on those stories when I write. Just thinking of some of them now takes me right back to my backyard and I’m 5 or 6 or 7 years old again. Love stories!
    Great post, Elizabeth!

    • 01/03/2012 9:33 pm

      I’m right there with you… I wonder if this is more common with certain groups of people? My impression is that bed time stories were more prevalent in the west and oral stories way before bedtime were more common in the east… I grew up hearing stories and not always at bedtime. 😉

  4. 28/02/2012 3:26 am

    I think I should get Aesop’s Fables for the chilren. There are many life lessons in those fables.

    • 28/02/2012 3:26 am

      Good grief – I can’t type anything properly tonight: for the children

      • 01/03/2012 9:34 pm

        It’s okay… that was a popular term for kids back in the day. 😆

    • 01/03/2012 9:28 pm

      Excellent idea Robin. They are short and pithy and the children will appreciate the lessons. 😉

  5. 28/02/2012 7:05 am

    Reblogged this on Writing Your Destiny and commented:
    Here’s a reblog about storytelling from Mirth and Motivation that you might like to read today!

    • 01/03/2012 9:36 pm

      TY Karen. I appreciate the reblog; it’s a feature I don’t fully understand and will need to read up on it again. I get the gist of it but need a better grasp. Glad you liked the post. 🙂

  6. 28/02/2012 7:13 am

    Beautiful post Elizabeth. I really connected with the last story. I would like to think that my art is a form of storytelling. Passing on my life experiences as prose and art.

    • 01/03/2012 9:37 pm

      TY Walter and yes, I believe your art is a form of storytelling from a visual perspective… It’s all good. 🙂

  7. Bree permalink
    28/02/2012 7:34 am

    Stories help me believe that we can be and do more. They transport me back to a place of joy and safety. My mom told me my earliest stories and I cherish them. This is a wonderful post for reflection and I’m surprised others didn’t stop to answer the questions about their memory of stories. As bloggers, it is an important question for all of you to answer.
    This is a thought-provoking post!
    B

    • 01/03/2012 9:47 pm

      TY for your feedback B. I agree that stories are an important foundation to writing and that we need to ask ourselves these questions. Our memories feed/fuel our creative expressions and it’s important to visit that place inside for reflection and rejuvenation. TY!

  8. 28/02/2012 8:30 am

    It is amazing how many BIG truths can be found in a few simple words. I love the Aesop’s fables, especially.

    • 01/03/2012 9:48 pm

      I concur… and many profound teachings too. 🙂

  9. 28/02/2012 12:04 pm

    My fellow Mississippian Reynolds Price has the right of it here–we humans seem to need stories more than love and shelter most days! Otherwise, why are we all here blogging and posting and chatting and smoozing?

    • 01/03/2012 10:01 pm

      True… Stories keep the game interesting and help us share what we learned, know or wish for. TY! 😉

  10. 28/02/2012 12:10 pm

    I’ve recently realized I didn’t share enough stories with my own children. The memory we have growing up comes in large part to the stories told and retold. I realized this was a fail in my parenting. Now of course they are catching up by reading my blog.
    b

    • 01/03/2012 10:15 pm

      TY! At least, the best part now is that your kids can read the many touching stories from your childhood on your blog. I won’t say it was a parenting failure… just another option one missed in a hectic day. 😉

  11. 28/02/2012 2:31 pm

    When I was a kid, I had a relative who was a world traveler with really interesting stories. I used to love listening to his many worldwide adventures and experiences.

    • 01/03/2012 10:02 pm

      I knew a few too and they regaled us with all sorts of fantastical stories. I believe it helped shape my imagination. 😉

  12. 28/02/2012 10:41 pm

    I feel in complete agreement with your wonderful thesis! I think I enjoy people as much as I do because I love the “story” each one tells. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be today if I hadn’t learned early to dive into books and story, fuel for the imagination and a great place to hide when life was too crowded. Just reading your post made me smile–your thoughts were so familiar to me, too! Debra

    • 01/03/2012 10:04 pm

      TY Debra and I feel the same as you too. Books were our guide and the story our party. I miss the storytelling gatherings from my younger years… Now it’s all rush, rush, rush. 🙂

  13. 28/02/2012 10:46 pm

    I really love to read, and when my daughter was young I would Make up stories that included Her friends. It was so special. As I get older I love to read but the stories I cannot seem to “make up” as I did with my daughter. Thanks for the memories.

    • 01/03/2012 10:06 pm

      😆 O Jackie, that is so true! Both of my kids are writers and tell better stories than I do. I did same with them as kids and they loved it… Nowadays, life is hectic… I’d love to share more stories with them too.

  14. 29/02/2012 7:42 am

    Your entry reminded me of how I would look forward to spending some time after dinner (and after homework!) in my grandmother’s bedroom, to listen to her stories. Most of them were like fables, each giving a life lesson somehow. Or reveal an insight into her beliefs about life and people in general. Life was so simple then. She passed away when she was 94. I was in my 20’s then. It was a long time ago. But I still remember most of her stories. In fact, I can still picture in my mind’s eye, her room, her lounge chair, me comfortably sprawled on her bed listening to her and watching her animated face. She was an excellent storyteller, expressions, gestures and all!

    • 01/03/2012 10:08 pm

      I would have loved to meet your grandma too as your description took me back to that same room to listen to her weave a yarn and keep one entranced… TY for sharing! 😉

  15. 29/02/2012 7:26 pm

    You brought me back tucked away memories of my youth with this post! The oral tradition of storytelling imparted a deep need for reading and then writing as I grew up. From a very early age, I would hound my dad to tell me a story before bed. I loved going to our local park where there would be a volunteer storyteller dressed like an elf sitting under an old tree reading books to us. Those early memories shape how I viewed the art of storytelling. They give me an emotional connection and a positive state of mind to connect with reading and writing that I love! Thank you for refreshing my memories, Elizabeth!

    • 01/03/2012 10:11 pm

      “I loved going to our local park where there would be a volunteer storyteller dressed like an elf sitting under an old tree reading books to us….” WoW! That was very fortunate for you to have a ready storyteller at your park. I agree that all of these relationships and exposure helped inform our love of stories and our need to write… TY! 😉

  16. 02/03/2012 7:38 am

    I love this post of yours. Everyone has his own story… and to be able to share it, thanks now to the internet and blogs, is a great accomplishment. It can inspire and help others to overcome their own story, to finally reach a happy ending… 🙂

    • 03/03/2012 10:34 pm

      TY! Storytelling is a huge part of life and many of us grew up immersed in that world… It is a crucial way to share traditions, culture and family history and I think it is important for us to continue the tradition anyway… Appreciate the feedback. 😉

  17. 04/03/2012 12:39 am

    C 😎 😎 L

  18. 07/03/2012 1:31 am

    I love hearing family stories…thanks for sharing some of yours.

    • 22/03/2012 4:42 pm

      You are welcome! One thing I didn’t mention is that storytelling is also relevant in the world of business and presentations. The best presentations I ever heard began with a poignant story… That is why TED does so well! TY! 🙂

  19. Ana De-Jesus permalink
    23/08/2017 4:16 pm

    I love stories too. From a young age I wrote my own poems and short stories and my blog became an extension of that. I love telling stories and I love listening to them as well!

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  1. Musings: Lessons Learned From Stories… | Mirth and Motivation
  2. Musings: A Few Fables… | Mirth and Motivation

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