“Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences…” Doris Lessing
Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger. Ben Okri
Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it. Hannah Arendt
When we want mood experiences, we go to concerts or museums. When we want a meaningful emotional experience, we go to the storyteller. Robert McKee
I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I love creating partnerships; I love not having to bear the entire burden of the creative storytelling, and when I have unions like with George Lucas and Peter Jackson, it’s really great; not only do I benefit, but the project is better for it. Steven Spielberg
The Power of StoryTelling: Stories are rooted in all cultures and we are all storytellers. Our mediums or media might vary but, we have stories in us that we have accumulated over the years through our life experiences and exposure to books, movies, songs, and other people’s tales. We routinely share our stories with others and they inform our decision making and the arc of our life choices. It is impossible to live in this world without exposure to stories because we create them every day through our interactions and communication with others. Stories inform/educate, inspire, motivate, heal and entertain us. Our experiential stories form an important foundation that guide and empower us on our life path. Stories are shared through the written word, movies, music, visual art forms including Digital storytelling and through the oldest form of storytelling, the Oral Tradition – the spoken word passed down through the ages by family members and professional storytellers or Griots.
As far back as I can remember, stories have always been a huge part of my life. I read, saw and heard them from an early age; I heard stories told to gatherings of relatives in front of a burning fireplace during the harmattan season in my grandfather’s compound, read many children and older books filled with stories, and saw and heard my share of movies and music filled with stories of love, loss, and inspiration. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of being read to and being part of a gathering of friends and family at a reading or night of storytelling. We have all had our experience with stories and we continue to create new ones every day. Aesop’s Fables has been a big part of my story reading experience and I have included several pithy stories here for your enjoyment. Do you remember your earliest encounter with the world of storytelling? What was the most moving story you ever read, heard or saw?
THE DONKEY AND HIS MASTERS: There was a donkey who worked for a gardener. Because the gardener made the donkey work very hard but gave him very little food, the donkey prayed to Zeus to take him away from the gardener and give him to another master, so Zeus sent Hermes to sell the donkey to a potter. The donkey also found this situation unbearable, since he was forced to carry even heavier loads than before. He called upon Zeus again, and this time Zeus arranged for the donkey to be purchased by a tanner. When the donkey saw the kind of work the tanner did, he said, ‘Oh, it would have been better for me to have kept on working for my previous masters in a state of starvation! Now I have ended up in a place where I won’t even get a proper burial after I die.’ Gratitude for where we are in life is important because the grass might not be greener elsewhere. Some stories shared from Aesopica
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER DOCTOR: An old woman suffering from an eye ailment summoned a doctor who charged a certain fee. She told him that if he cured her, she would pay him the specified fee, but if he didn’t cure her, she wouldn’t pay him anything. The doctor began the cure, visiting the woman every day. He would smear an ointment on her eyes, and while the ointment prevented her from seeing, he would take some object from her house and carry it away. He did the same thing day after day. The woman saw that her property was being diminished with each passing day and by the time she was cured, all her household goods were gone. The doctor asked her for the agreed-upon fee since she was now able to see clearly, and he summoned witnesses to their agreement. The woman protested, ‘I can’t see a thing! Even when my eyes were ailing, I was able to see the many things which I had in my home. Now, when you claim I am cured, I can’t see any of them!’ The fable shows that by their own actions, wicked people can unwittingly serve as witnesses against themselves in a court of law.
THE FARMER AND HIS SONS: A farmer who was about to die wanted his sons to be knowledgeable about the farm, so he summoned them and said, ‘My children, there is a treasure buried in one of my vineyards.’ After he died, his sons took plows and mattocks and dug up the entire farm. They did not find any treasure, but the vineyard paid them back with a greatly increased harvest. Thus they learned that man’s greatest treasure consists of work.
The Honest Woodcutter: The Greek version of the story tells of a woodcutter who accidentally dropped his ax into a river and, because this was his only means of livelihood, sat down and wept. Taking pity on him, the god Hermes (also known as Mercury) dived into the water and returned with a golden ax. “Was this what you had lost?”, Hermes asked, but the woodcutter said it was not, and returned the same answer when a silver ax was brought to the surface. Only when his own tool is produced does he claim it. Impressed by his honesty, the god allows him to keep all three. Hearing of the man’s good fortune, an envious neighbor threw his own ax into the river and wailed for its return. When Hermes appeared and offered him a golden ax, the man greedily claimed it but was denied both that and the return of his own ax. Dishonesty and greedy don’t always yield expected returns. Wikipedia
THE TREES ELECT A KING: The trees came together so that they could anoint a king to rule over them. ‘Please be our ruler,’ they said to the olive tree. The olive tree said in reply, ‘Why would I abandon the richness of my oil, which is valued by both gods and mortals, in order to become the leader of the trees?’ They came to the fig tree and said, ‘Agree to rule over us.’ The fig tree answered, ‘Why would I relinquish my sweetness and delightful fruit in order to become the leader of the trees?’ They came to the vine, hoping that the vine might rule over them, but the vine answered, ‘Why would I relinquish the wine which brings joy both to God and to mankind?’ And so the vine refused to be their leader. The trees then said to the thorn bush, ‘Rule over us.’ The thorn bush replied, ‘If indeed you have resolved to make me your king, come and rest under my shadow, and if you refuse, a fire will come forth from the thorn bush and devour the cedars.‘ Everything has a price. Aesopica index
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” Robert McKee
Storynomics: How to Create a Story That Inspires with Robert McKee
I don’t think there’s a subject matter that can’t absorb 3-D; that can’t tolerate the addition of depth as a storytelling technique. Martin Scorsese
True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature. Robert McKee
Because storytelling, and visual storytelling, was put in the hands of everybody, and we have all now become storytellers. LeVar Burton
Storytelling is an essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is. Tim O’Brien
Storytelling is a very old human skill that gives us an evolutionary advantage. If you can tell young people how you kill an emu, acted out in song or dance, or that Uncle George was eaten by a croc over there, don’t go there to swim, then those young people don’t have to find out by trial and error. Margaret Atwood
The Wisdom of Storytelling: We learn and inform through storytelling. Stories are our greatest repository of history, hope, and heritage. They bring the past back to life and give us much to expect for the future. When we share our stories, we add to the body of knowledge that exists in the world. All of history, beliefs, and traditions come from gathered stories, and we continue to add to that well of wisdom on a daily basis. Don’t forget to celebrate the next World Storytelling Day on March 20, 2020. Come later back for more on this post.
READ: On Fiction: Six Stories in Six Words – Honoring Hemingway
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
Life: Full of Surprises…
THE CROW AND THE WATER JAR: A thirsty crow noticed a huge jar and saw that at the very bottom there was a little bit of water. For a long time, the crow tried to spill the water out so that it would run over the ground and allow her to satisfy her tremendous thirst. After exerting herself for some time in vain, the crow grew frustrated and applied all her cunning with unexpected ingenuity: as she tossed little stones into the jar, the water rose of its own accord until she was able to take a drink. This fable shows us that thoughtfulness is superior to brute strength since this is the way that the crow was able to carry her task to its conclusion. From Aesopica
THE LION AND THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER: A story about a lion and a young woman, which teaches us not to indulge our desires. A lion who had fallen in love with a young woman went to the woman’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. The father was afraid to refuse the lion’s offer, but asked him first to have his teeth and claws taken out; otherwise, the lion could only arouse his daughter’s terror. The lion was so in love with the woman that he agreed to the bargain. When the lion came back and approached the farmer, now naked and defenseless, the farmer clubbed him to death. If you follow your enemies’ advice, you will run into danger.
THE BOY WHO CRIED ‘WOLF’: There was a boy tending the sheep who would continually go up to the embankment and shout, ‘Help, there’s a wolf!’ The farmers would all come running only to find out that what the boy said was not true. Then one day there really was a wolf but when the boy shouted, they didn’t believe him and no one came to his aid. The whole flock was eaten by the wolf. The story shows that this is how liars are rewarded: even if they tell the truth, no one believes them
Wolf in Sheep’s clothing: A wolf once decided to change his nature by changing his appearance, and thus get plenty to eat. He put on a sheepskin and accompanied the flock to the pasture. The shepherd was fooled by the disguise. When night fell, the shepherd shut up the wolf in the fold with the rest of the sheep and as the fence was placed across the entrance, the sheepfold was securely closed off. But when the shepherd wanted a sheep for his supper, he took his knife and killed the wolf. Changing your clothes doesn’t change your character and could get you in trouble.
Chanticleer: The cock, Chanticleer, lives with his three wives in an enclosure on a rich man’s farm. He is forewarned in a dream of his capture by a predator but is inclined to disregard it, against the persuasion of his favorite, Pinte, who has already caught sight of Renart, the wolf, lurking in the cabbage patch. Eventually, the two creatures meet and Renart overcomes the cock’s initial fear by describing the great admiration he had for the singing of Chanticleer’s father. If the son is to equal his father, he explains, he must shut his eyes as he stretches his neck to crow. But when Chanticleer obliges, the fox seizes him and makes a run for the woods with the farmworkers and a mastiff in pursuit. Chanticleer now advises the fox to turn round and defy them, but when he opens his mouth to do so Chanticleer flies up to safety in a tree. Both then blame themselves for the gullibility their pride has led them into. Wikipedia
The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for JUL–AUG 2019 are:
08/01 – National Girlfriend Day,
08/04 – 04 FriendshipDay, 0/7 Lighthouse Day
08/11 – 12 World Elephant Day, 15 Natl Relaxation Day
08/18 – 19 World Photography Day, 23 Remembrance Day
08/25 – 26 Women’s Equality Day, 26 MTV Awards
09/01 – College Colors Day, 02 Labor Day, 07 Read a Book Day
09/08 – 08 Grandparents Day, Int’l Literacy Day, 10 Suicide Prevention Day, 11 Patriot Day
09/15 – 15 Batman Day, 18 Aids and Aging Awareness Day, 21 Int’l Day of Peace
09/22 – 22 Emmy Awards, 23 Start of Fall, 25 Comic Book Day, 28 Int’l Day for Universal Info Access
09/29 – 29 Start of Rosh Hashanah, National Coffee Day, 30 Int’l Podcast and Translation Day
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“The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.” Ben Okri
Storytelling and elegant style don’t always go hand in hand. Donna Tartt
Storytelling is about two things; it’s about character and plot. George Lucas
The connective tissue between storytelling, advice, and comedy is passion. Lauren Lapkus
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. Robert McAfee Brown
We’re so complex; we’re mysteries to ourselves; we’re difficult for each other. And then storytelling reminds us we’re all the same. Brad Pitt
I think that storytelling, at its essence, allows us to feel like we all suffer the same insanity or similar insanity of existence: that nobody escapes scot-free... David Harbour
The Magic of Storytelling: We can be transported to another realm through the lens of storytelling. When we gather with loved ones to see a movie, share a reading or hear a well-crafted tale, we are drawn in by our expectations of enjoying a beautifully told tale. This is why movies and all forms of visual storytelling are enjoyed by billions of people globally. When we go to the movies or listen to a moving song, we can, for a moment, escape the stressors facing us, and flow into an altered space where we become privy to an alternate reality. This form of escapism gives our brain a chance to relax, step back from our situation, and even process new ways of viewing our current circumstances. In good and hard times, stories are used to bond with others and celebrate achievements, to castigate our detractors, and to offer clear examples of what is, what was, and what might happen if things were different. Come later back for more on this post.
READ: Serendipity: Some Positive Markers for March…
Inspiration: The Great Secret…
A Story: The Headache & Halo by Anon
One day, a man walked into his doctor’s office complaining… ” Doctor, I have this awful headache that won’t go away. Please, could you give me a prescription for it?”
“I will,” murmured the doctor, pondering what had set off his usually calm patient. “but first, I want to check out a few things and ask you a few questions… Tell me, do you drink a lot of alcohol?”
“Alcohol?” the man shouted back indignantly. “I never touch that filthy stuff. Nor do I go near people who drink it. All filthy!”
“How about smoking?” the doctor calmly inquired.
“I think smoking is disgusting. I’ve never touched tobacco in my life.”
“Okay,” the doctor continued, “I’m a bit embarrassed to even ask this, but… Do you run around at night seeking dangerous pleasures?”
“Of course not! What do you take me for? I’m a highly spiritual and disciplined man, and I’m in bed by 10 o’clock every night.” The man spat back.
“Then, tell me…” said the doctor, “This pain in your head, is it a sharp, shooting kind of pain?”
“Yes, yes!” The man eagerly replied, his eyes lighting up… “It is… a sharp, shooting kind of pain.”
“Well, that’s simple, my dear fellow!” the doctor replied with a smile on his face. “The trouble is that you have your halo on too tight. All we need to do for you is loosen it up a bit; loosen you up a bit! Avoid the bad habits I mentioned earlier, and enjoy some innocent pleasures in life – Create some balance. Let go of the rigidity. Live!” Anon
THE DOG IN THE MANGER: There was a wicked dog lying in a manger full of hay. When the cattle came and wanted to eat, the dog barred their way, baring his teeth. The cattle said to the dog, ‘You are being very unfair by begrudging us something we need which is useless to you. Dogs don’t eat hay, but you will not let us near it.’ The same thing happened when a dog was holding a bone in his mouth: the dog couldn’t chew on the bone that way, but no other dog was able to chew on it either. People frequently begrudge something to others that they themselves cannot enjoy. Even though it does them no good, they won’t let others have it. The fable shows that it is not easy to avoid envy: with some effort, you can try to escape its effects, but it never goes away entirely.
THE TWO POTS: The banks of a river caved in, tossing two pots into the river where they have swept away together in the raging waters. Each of the pots had been created by a different technique from a different material: one was made of poured bronze and the other was molded clay. There was thus an uneasy alliance between the two of them, one fragile and one unbreakable, as they moved along the winding course of the wandering stream. The bronze jar solemnly promised to keep her hulking progress at a distance from the other jar, not wanting to strike and shatter her. The jar of clay, meanwhile, was afraid that the heavier object might do damage to her lighter frame because something slight can put no trust in something superior. ‘Although your words are reassuring,’ the clay pot said, ‘I cannot shake this fear from my soul. Whether the wave crashes me into you or you into me, in either case, I will be the only victim of the catastrophe.’ The story teaches us that some situations are simply inevitable but it helps to stay faithful.
THE LION AND THE BOAR AT THE SPRING: In the summertime when the heat makes everyone thirsty, a lion and a wild boar had come to drink from the same small spring. They began to argue about who was going to take the first drink, and their argument escalated into a duel to the death. When they momentarily paused to catch their breath, the lion and the boar saw that vultures were waiting to snatch and devour the one who was killed. At that point, the lion and the boar put their hatred aside and said, ‘It is better for us to befriend one another than to be eaten by vultures and ravens!’ The story teaches us that it is good to set aside our deadly disputes and conflicts since they put everyone’s lives in jeopardy.
THE CITY MOUSE AND THE COUNTRY MOUSE: A city mouse once happened to pay a visit to the house of a country mouse where he was served a humble meal of acorns. The city mouse finished his business in the country and by means of insistent invitations, he persuaded the country mouse to come to pay him a visit. The city mouse then brought the country mouse into a room that was overflowing with food. As they were feasting on various delicacies, a butler opened the door. The city mouse quickly concealed himself in a familiar mouse hole, but the poor country mouse was not acquainted with the house and frantically scurried around the floorboards, frightened out of his wits. When the butler had taken what he needed, he closed the door behind him. The city mouse then urged the country mouse to sit back down to dinner. The country mouse refused and said, ‘How could I possibly do that? Oh, how scared I am! Do you think that the man is going to come back?’ This was all that the terrified mouse was able to say. The city mouse insisted, ‘My dear fellow, you could never find such delicious food as this anywhere else in the world.’ ‘Acorns are enough for me,’ the country mouse maintained, ‘so long as I am secure in my freedom!’ It is better to live in self-sufficient poverty than to be tormented by the worries of wealth.
Positive Motivation Tip: Stories are our greatest repository of history, hope, and heritage. They bring the past back to life and give us much to expect for the future. Tell and Cherish Yours!
Motivation Mondays is open to anyone who wishes to share a motivational quote, photo, personal challenge or a post that encourages others to start the week on an upbeat note.
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