Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Telling Life: The observed world

I love people watching. I am a habitual eavesdropper. I'm that person in the cafe with a book in front of her staring out the window. One of my first posts in this blog was about just that, the art of keeking and many others have been my observations of the world. Most of my storyteller friends - heck, most of my friends - do this. We'll be out to lunch and one of us will suddenly get a far away look in their eye and inclines their head in a particular direction. We fall quiet and listen.

There are stories everywhere. When you view the world through the storyteller's lens everything changes.

The woman in the grocery store aisle looking intently at the paper towels? Maybe her father looked like the Brawny guy and she's remembering that time when she was a girl and they rode on a roller coaster for the first time.

I can't help but observe the world. I've always been like this. When I was a little girl my family encouraged observation. We would watch the sky for satellites and shooting stars. We went to museums and I was taught how to look at a painting though half the time I was watching the people watching the art.

The man who is tearing through traffic in the Subaru Brat like there's no tomorrow? Maybe for him there is no tomorrow. Maybe he just got bad news. Maybe he's on the run. Or maybe he's just a jerk.

My stories are populated by the things I see, the overheard conversations, the possibilities suggested by the stranger's stance. I can't tell you how many times I have overheard something that became a full-blown tale. The people I tell about are often real, just borrowed and placed in new situations.

The kid singing to himself? Maybe he's singing with a choir I can't hear. Maybe he's going to become the next great lyricist. Maybe he can't sing at home. Maybe he's calling the faeries. Maybe he is a faery. I don't know.

It's sometimes a problem. When I hear a conversation I can't bear to walk away from. When I walk behind someone for the extra block because they intrigue me. When I almost get caught, eavesdropping. I mean no harm. I'm just a storyteller looking for her next fix.

Storytellers of all kinds, be we performers, writers, poets, film makers or some other kind of narrative artist, have a world of possibility presented to us every day. Go out and observe.
Imagine new possibilities.
Observation can be a kind of worship, honoring the way the world opens itself to us and we, by seeing it, make it real. It can be a great mystery, giving us riddles to solve. It can be the source of your next story.
It is our palette and playground.
Go play.
Then tell me, what do you see? And what else? And?

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. I'm also one of the eavesdropping/observation tribe! I love this especially: "Observation can be a kind of worship, honoring the way the world opens itself to us and we, by seeing it, make it real."

    1. thanks! I was thinking about the observer effect and, frankly, one of my grief experiences around invisibility. And the Mary Oliver Poem A Summer's Day


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