Thursday, March 15, 2012

Storytelling as a river

The story quote of the week let us spend some time with Mole as he sat by the river and listened to its tales. I think rivers are great metaphors for storytelling (and life in general). Think about it.

  • A good story moves you. You flow from image to image and are transported along the narrative.You find yourself someplace new, a stranger in the world, after you hear a great story.
  • A good story is never the same each time you tell or hear it. Stories change with experience, so the parts of a story that are meaningful in one telling may not be the same as the next. What's more, stories change with the audience, so no two tellings are ever the same, since audiences vary while tellers grow and change. 
  • A good story harbors many. Even the simplest stories are rife with images and metaphors that linger long after the telling. You may find yourself coming back to it later and discovering hidden depth. There is a story I first told maybe 15 years ago; each time I tell it I discover something new about myself, a new image swimming around, new hidden treasure.
  • Just like rivers, stories that are dammed up can be immensely powerful or immensely destructive. We need to be heard. We need to know that someone values our stories and our work. If we have no one to listen to us, the stories we hold inside can become warped and dangerous and, in turn, warp us.
  • Stories have tributaries, you don't know where they might lead and what connections they may harbor. A simple folk tale could become an epic. A heart-breaking personal story may lead to an ocean of commonality. Each story, teller and listener is connected, just the way a river is connected to a spring, is connected to a glacier is connected to the rain is connected to the ocean.
  • Good stories keep us alive. They are an ecosystem. We are nourished by the stories we hear and tell. They move us to listen more effectively and tell better stories. Just like a healthy river that sustains myriad life forms in its flow, its banks and for miles around, stories keep us strong, sustained, filtered, alive.
As the weather becomes warmer, take some time. Go listen to a river. It may tell you a story you never expected to hear.

(c)2012 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Yes, to all of this. Whenever I visit, I feel a stone drop to the bottom of the well, bringing nourishment closer and closer. (Hugs)indigo

  2. Really lovely. Thank you!
    Pam Faro, Storyteller


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