18 May, 2010

Story Telling

Last week I had lunch with three women in this cute little European style café.  The organizer of the lunch “knew” that we would all get along though this was the first chance we had to have lunch. 

What was meant to be out of the office for an hour turned into 2.5 hours of laughter and stories and sharing. 

“I hope we weren’t too loud.” One of the  women commented. 

I had to smile as there is “too loud” and then there is the “loud” that came from our table.  It was laughter and fun and completely enjoying one another’s company.  Those are the tables that tend to lighten a room or bring smiles to others over disturbing their meals. 

The lunch was fun, but it was also enlightening.  The three women, all older than me, are storytellers.  They are animated with great tone and timing.  They are confident in the situations they relate.  Masters of the art – and story telling is an art!

I found myself spending more time laughing and listening than contributing to the conversation.  Not only are these three storytellers, but they are talkers – over one another, under one another, around one another… the conversation  took turns and drifted in directions unimaginable. 

I loved it. 

I loved the laughter and the company, but I enjoy listening to stories and find myself entertained by, not only the story unfolding, but the gestures and the tones that are part of the telling.

As I sat considering the lunch and anticipating a monthly  occurrence with this group – I thought of my own role in groups or at the lunch.  How long has it been since have enjoyed a lunch like that?  How long has it been since I sat and simply laughed like that – the kind of laughter that involves no noise at all?  But, what did I contribute?

Story telling is an art.  Some can tell stories naturally while others work to learn to do it.  Some cultures value their oral storytellers, while in other cultures, it is a disappearing or lost art.  Some personalities are natural at relating situations – taking just about anything and making it entertainment.  And some personalities are listeners. 

While I can tell a good story, and I am animated and passionate, I tend to be a listener.  At a dinner party, I am the woman next to you asking questions, drawing you out, and genuinely interested in your stories and ideas and dreams.  I am the circulating person who considers who needs to talk to whom – bringing people together.  I am the clever comment and the sharp tongue and the source of banter.

As comfortable as I am with creating stories and with words, one might think that I am a storyteller – and perhaps I am in my own way and after a certain amount of time.

And perhaps my storytelling is more of the one-on-one variety? 

Or the story telling that takes the written form allowing me the space to create and work the wording, just so?

And then again, perhaps my stories are more of the creative, imagination based variety – the secrets whispered in the wind, the distant travels and adventures experienced by a grain of sand, or the adventure of riding a dragonfly!


Are you a storyteller? 

Tell me a story.  I am listening! 



dadshouse said...

Sounds like a fun lunch! I used to think I was a story teller. Still waiting for NY publishers to agree... haha

bechtoldlifework said...

What a thoughtful post. It really gets me pondering. I call myself a storyteller and think I do so in writing and also in performance, but get me at a table with personalities like those you had lunch with, and I will likely take a backseat. I think it's because so much of my interaction with people professionally is one-to-one, in my office, just the two of us. And I'm there as the listener rather than the talker. So it's kind of like I'm two different people.

Btw, your lunch sounds very fun. And I loved your poem about the dragonfly!


Mama Llama said...

Some of us have the gift of oral tradition; others, the written word is what best befits their expression. You are a writer. Your stories shine forth in a very enviable form that many can only wish to emulate. I am more of an oral storyteller. I need my hands, my eyes, my gestures and my inflection to capture attention and illustrate.

You have heard my stories. I love yours--written and oral. But you have a gift for the written word.

Be well, TE. I'll call you later this week perhaps with a new story--or perhaps with the same ol' crap! :)

Mama Llama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Gammill said...

Yes, storytelling is an art, but one easily taught. Many people believe they aren't good storytellers; most in fact are. As you described about you at the dinner party, it's really a matter of asking the right question. My book, Success...Swimming in a Sea of is an example of asking people to recall when or why they learned something, or their earliest memory about a something or other. They will often instantly recall some time in their youth and begin telling a life story. They often surprise themselves. http://www.stevegammill.com/book

Sara said...

First, thanks for the link, but now I give homework...

The poem about the dragonfly needs to go up at your site. It was delightful and fun.

Do you like poetry? I assume you must. If so, start sharing it. I love reading poems and they do often tell a good story:~)

Anonymous said...

I love your dragonfly poem! Fanciful and fun!
I am a storyteller. Every experience is a story and I can find the lesson or the humor, so those around me are always asking for my latest story...and I love entertaining so I share it.
More than that, though, I also greatly enjoy listening to stories...all kinds not just the formal beginning, middle, end kinds but tell me about yourself as you are today, what did you experience what made your heart happy and/or sad...I learn from everything that is shared.
As far as your lunch, I have the pleasure of being blessed with some amazing friends and we take time to get together often to just be in each other's company and laugh. Nothing like it! I'm glad you had the experience, and I know there are many more such lunches in your future:)

Wilma Ham said...

I have always been the listener and still prefer it that way. I very seldom tell my story and only when I am asked to by listeners like you and now on my blog. Listeners have a very important role and you will be a blessing to quite a few people. You would be to me.
Love Wilma

Giulietta said...


Love those kinds of lunches. Loud is good. Means folks are alive. Let's all be more LOUD.

Storytelling started with the dawn of man and woman. Such a great way to communicate. With our world getting reduced to sound bites, people taking the time to tell stories helps reverse that trend.

Your story about riding on a dragonfly - just brilliant! I can see it. Painted a dragonfly awhile back and it didn't look right. Now, I know how to adjust it. Am glad I read this post. It's pried my imagination open even wider.

Thx. Giulietta

The Exception said...

DH – Stories are great – and sometimes they need to find the write audience! Lunches with friends are always such fun though – So when are you coming to Virginia for lunch?
Patty – That is exactly it. I am two people but the same. Two people might be too much – just different sides of my personality. There are so many different ways to tell a story and different ways to be a storyteller!
ML – I love your stories… Those about your kids and your life are delightful and heart felt. And your writing is wonderful too!
Steve – Different types of stories… there are so many things we share and in different formats and for different reasons whether it be memories or dreams or entertainment. Thanks for visiting and sharing!
Sara – I have fun writing little poems and don’t do it as often as I could – and I may start. They are so much fun. My daughter is the poet in the family though!
Joy – Thanks for visiting. Such lunches are food for the soul I think as are such friends. I anticipate more in my future and in yours! I love listening to the stories that you describe - people are wondrous vessels and treasures.
Wilma – Listeners are key – and yet as a listener I find it difficult sometimes to find someone to listen to me… ;)I have yet to understand why we often overlook the nuances and the beauty of the human experience and the gifts we give and can receive from one another through conversations, stories, and communication and time shared. Thanks for sharing a few minutes with me and for sharing your comment.
Giulietta – Please post a picture of your Dragonfly! It was wonderfully fun to write and lightened the day – but then when doesn’t flying on a dragonfly bring a smile and a sense of adventure? ;) In this age when we are reducing communication to 140 characters or less… the stories and the comments and the essays and the conversations we share become more valuable to me. Thanks for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts.