Then, I began to find classes where teachers told stories. Sometimes those classes were about foreign people and places and times. I couldn't understand them because I had never been there, but when the storytellers taught the classes I began to believe I had been there after all. Not all the teachers told stories, but I found myself going to the classes where stories were honored--even if it was a story about physics or chemistry. There were storytelling classes where the teacher believed what was being said was true but also knew it was a story. I found that even at a university there was a family of storytellers. Let me tell you a story.
Listen. I promise that everything I say is true. When things started, some great one decided that what was being said would be. If men and women wanted to live a certain life, they just had to say so and the life would happen as it was told. The great one was all spirit and could join in any story that was told. In this way the great one became a part of every storyteller and connected one story to the next. The plan was to join the whole earth into one great story, and the storytelling family grew. But that kind of world could not last for long. Sometimes people told stories that were good for them and sometimes they did not. When something bad would come from a story, the teller decided not to tell stories anymore. Each story that was not told divided the people of the earth, and the family of storytellers shrunk. The great one though about this for a long time and decided things would have to change. There would be a storytelling family and there would be others, but the only thing one of the others had to do to become a part of the family was to tell a story or to listen to one. The important thing the great one decided was that the listener and the storyteller would agree that the story was true. There is magic in agreeing to believe in each other, if only for the moment the story is told, and the magic is that the storyteller and the listener sit in the same place together. They are family for the time it takes to tell the story, to hear the story, to read the story, or to remember the story. The great one told his story of storytelling to everyone, but people forgot it. They forgot it because they were hungry or cold or frightened. I can't blame them, and I figure the great one didn't either. Still, everyone began to argue about which story was real and which story was not true instead of honoring each other's stories. The world got in a very bad way. When one person would say the moon is blue, another would doubt that could be true, and so the doubter could not be in the place with the person and the blue moon. Soon everyone was telling stories, but no one was listening. It may be that this became the way of the white man, and as the jokes say, "White men are stupid." I hope not. There is a family that goes beyond the limits of disbelief and stupidity. There is a family of storytellers who heal and comfort and inspire and share. I say this not because some book says so or because it seems to be something a white man should say when faced with the isolation and lonely landscape offered by disbelief. I say this simply because it is true.
What is left after such a story? Perhaps we can agree that there is much to be done. There must be those who will risk telling their story. A storyteller risks much because what is offered is a personal gift, and any story that gets told happens to the storyteller during the telling and happens to the story listener during the listening. We have to love a story to tell it. We have to be risk takers to listen to a story as well. All good stories wrap us in their arms. They are offerings of a quiet and curious love. When we offer something we love to someone else, we take the risk that the great one may want us to take. Some may think we are crazy. Some will not honor our story. Some will say we say cute things and treat us like puppies. Some may want to use our story to make themselves look better. Some may want to buy us since that seems to be the only story they know. There will be times when we want to be so alone no one can hear our story. There will be times when we can't find the words and will have to let silence speak for us. Even in silence we can tell a story if there is someone listening. There will be times when we speak a language that is not our own in order to encourage others to hear something at all. Believe. Someone listens. Someone hears a story and believes, and they storyteller and the listener become one for a moment and are healed. Because of this, it is the storyteller who holds the magic to make the world happen--to make the world family. I will keep telling my story because someone will listen. You tell your story too. I promise every word is true.