The vow of a storyteller.

December 21, 2010

I have taken a vow, for myself and for the world. The other day I watched a movie, a movie telling a story that dragged me back and forth through human trauma, through pain, suffering, sickness, delusion. A story that rubbed it in my face, shoved it down my throat and left me to die. I left the theater in a daze, in a crowd of people laughing and speaking very loudly. Why were they laughing? There was certainly nothing humorous in that story. I found my car, I got in. My hands were shaking, I was shaking. I was in shock, I realized, something terrible just happened to me and in my blank mind there was one question: why? And a thought: I will never, ever do this! I took a vow, right then, in my car, that I will never tell a story that leaves someone feeling like I felt. I will never tell a story that slams someone into a big pile of trauma. I will never do that, because I understand the power that¬† storyteller wields. At the beginning of my “American career” I was a nanny to three kids. They were wonderful on occasions, devilish on others, little monkeys full of energy and ideas, always running around, always getting into mischief. We would watch movies sometime, though they hardly ever managed to sit still long enough to see the ending, except for one time. A friend of mine bought a DVD with stories told by a storyteller. It was a man with a puppet dog telling stories, old, classic, fairytales. There were some puppets enacting those stories, but even so it was not a movie with special effects, with colors flashing, with races and mysteries. There was just a man, a puppet dog, telling tales, and yet the kids sat transfixed in front of the TV for three solid hours. They wouldn’t move. And they would do it every time I put on this program, even though, eventually, they know it by heart. That was when I realized what a powerful thing storytelling is. That was when I realized that the most valued, the most respected and the most coveted guest in any household in the old times was a storyteller. A bard, a troubadour. And before households people would sit around the fire, listening to stories. And now we sit around TV, watching stories, we read stories in books, on websites, in newspapers, we share stories with our friends. Those stories are more than just entertainment, they’ve always been more. They teach us. They teach us about what the reality is, they teach us about who we are in reality. They show us what can happen, and how to be with it. In stories we find what is right and what is wrong, what is honorable and what is despicable. It’s stories that teach us how to aspire, how to achieve, how to create, how to grow beyond what we thought we could be. It’s stories that show us how to fail, how to loose, how to break down, how to die. There is a great power in stories, there is a great power that a story teller wields, and that is the power of creating reality. And so few days ago, as I sat in my car reeling from my experience with this horrific story, I have taken a vow: I will never create a story that hurts! I will tell stories that heal, open, grow, transform. I will tell stories about how to be happy in the world, how to be present, how to be yourself and how to enjoy it. That is my vow as a storyteller.

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