Good stories extend who we are. They educate our feelings, bring us pleasure, knowledge, and even wisdom. Despite this, in a world full of distractions and demands on our time and attention, stories might appear to be a luxury – something extra you might enjoy if you had the time. As the history of human society reveals, however – from camp fires to cafés to parliaments – storytelling is what we think with.
We’re telling a story every time we say something ‘is’ (or ‘is not’). From childhood onwards, our minds construct our reality through narratives – be they the great myths and stories of religion, the theories of science and philosophy, or what happened in the playground at school. We make sense of the world through stories, told, retold, or overheard. Spun through this process, through our minds and our bodies, what we imagine is fundamental to our being.
A storyteller (who may or may not be a writer) is someone who has made it their business to be more than usually aware of the workings of this power, or faculty, and its tactile life in the fabric of words – in the presence we make with our speech and expression. Writers or not, oral storytelling is an art in which we all participate – with the difference between us not in kind, but in degree.
National Storytelling Week gives everyone a nudge to tune in to this power, the imagination at work in our language, the history we create every day. It is the power to touch – and change – one another, through the living bond of the human voice. It is, truly, an awesome power – one that we should respect, and use wisely.
Stories may be lost, as well as made – but storytelling will exist wherever there is language.
This post will also appear at http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/views/