Monday, May 13, 2013

K is for...karma

As you know, I'm storytelling my way through the alphabet. You can find summaries of a-e here and f-j here. Dig around the blog for more as you'd like!

K is a tough letter in English, so I'm cheating and going to Karma. You know the basic concept, that what goes around comes around. This applies to storytelling as well. While I find some deep spiritual value in this, there are real, practical ways we can see karma at work in storytelling.

When storytellers practice good listening, when we remember that other tellers are as worthy of being heard as we are, we help build a community of listeners. And we need listeners for our own stories, so modeling good listening comes back to us. If we are ungenerous and don't listen to others, why should they listen to us?

When we are ethical about the gigs we take and refuse, passing on the ones we believe could be better fulfilled by other tellers, we help build a better reputation for storytelling as an art. None of us is accomplished at everything. When the right artist is in the right job we are viewed as more professional, more accomplished and more creative. We build a better a environment for all of us to tell in. What's more, if we are generous and pass gigs to the right people, they are more likely to pass gigs back to us.

When we help less experienced tellers we are ensuring the art survives long after us. As we grow from new tellers to journeymen to mentors to elders, we are able to share our accumulated wisdom. Hoarding it won't help the world and won't help build a community of tellers and listeners.

All of these actions and more build good karma.

A story.

One of my signature stories is about a woman who is dissuaded from suicide by someone who might be Coyote. I've told this story hundreds of times. I know it makes an impression. I've been telling it for maybe 15 years.

About two years ago I received a thank you card from a suicide prevention organization, letting me know that a donation had been made in my honor. The note included an email address if I wanted to know more.

My curiosity couldn't be contained. I wrote and asked.

The donation was made by a mother. Her son heard me tell my story, talked to me after (she said he told me he didn't know anyone else every felt that way. I've heard that a lot. Every time I tell people they aren't alone and they can get help if they need to). He then told his mother he was thinking about killing himself. He got help. He was going to be okay. He'd been accepted to a good college and was building a better life. A life. One he would not have had, she believed, had he not heard that story on that night.

As storytellers, we impact untold numbers of people every time we tell, listen and teach. As storytellers, we impact untold numbers every time we give less than all we have, every time we don't listen, every time we turn away from the teaching moment.

We never know how our actions will be reflected back to us, only that they will.

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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