STORYTELLING

 One of the things that we have lost in this culture is our capacity to be imaginative and to listen deeply.  Most don't even know it's missing. We have become so inundated with and mesmerized by the "external screen" that we no longer see the problem of our "internal screen" that is missing. 

So, what happens when we listen...listen deeply,...to a story, or a tale, told well?  If we get hooked by the story, we kinda get lost in it don't we?  The story grabs us on its own through resonance.  It finds, for lack of a better way to describe it, a place inside of us where truth connects to our experience.  The story mediates something which can only be described, heard, viewed, imagined.  It's like something inside of us has to be "convinced" or "awakened".  Once we have this experience of awakening, it's like we recognize from within.   No one has to convince us.  Something of an inner wisdom has been tapped.  Robert Bly called it the "golden thread."  Joseph Campbell saw his students waking up to it when he consulted with them in his office. Many people live without this "it." We chase something today which we call truth and we perceive it to be "outside ourselves."  Most think that they know what they are "chasing" but never catch up to it. Many just lack access to their imagination. Catalyzing and creating ways to reach the imagination is what story telling at its best does.

 

What makes a good movie GREAT is when you get so caught up in the story, not just the images on the screen (which is another issue), that you lose track of geo-space (where you are in space and time) and you enter into a sort of therapeutic timelessness.  Letting go and letting yourself go into a deeper story is what Morpheus was pointing out when he introduced Neo in the Matrix to the option of the "Blue Pill" or the "Red Pill."  The "Red Pill" is what leads you into the liminal space.  Movies can do this.  Many "HAVE" done this, but sadly, movies may "move" us, but they lack the "staying power" of really understanding what is happening while we're simply passively watching.  Sometimes being moved into this space is a scary thing - it can feel like a precipice or looking over the edge of a cliff.  How far down does the story go?  How will you ever be connected to the deeps of your own experience if you never find out? Choosing the "Blue Pill" over the "Red Pill" is rarely satisfying.  Children as especially good at this deep imaginative stuff - that is, until they have to start dealing with the "real world." Isn't it funny how some things can shift? When we lose our imagination we lose something. It can take a long time to get it back - but it doesn't have to.  That's the pulse that storytelling has its finger on.

We are rarely compelled by movies, because, I think, we have been conditioned by the movies themselves to be "passive."  We sit in front of a screen and watch. They might alert us to facts of history and artists and producers versions of these histories, their "spin," but do they create in us places of change and insight?  Maybe if we're aware - they do.  But I think that we are content to "go to a movie" and then "leave the movie theater" to return to life as normal.  They are for entertainment. Storytelling, that's not experienced primarily through the eye, but through the EAR, is different and I want to argue does contain "staying power" because storytelling, and especially a story or myth adequately told, creates an environment for the imagination to engage and for the hearers to hear and discern and put the pieces together inside of themselves. Storytelling and its tool "narrative transportation" takes the listener some place so as to be "inductively" engaged.

Cultures from all over the world have, since the beginning of time, when humans began to see their way out of  the misery of being, began to see their way out by telling stories - and they weren't to help people cope and escape.  They were stories that gave them insight into their situation - so that they could go through it and come out on the other side. Rightly experienced storytelling is empowering and inspirational. 

 

To be able to see with a "birds eye view" and gain perspective is the job and role of storytelling.  When no story exists to help you understand the situation in which you find yourself - there's chaos, pain, dreadful suffering and a sense of end and limitations. Transcendent storytelling that engages the imagination, now lying dormant in most of us, helps us see and comprehend.  Having a transcending insight is liberating and deepening. That's what happens when the old, sleeping imagination wakes up. To re-ignite this imagination is like waking up a sleeping GIANT!

He's the "good Giant." 

~Jeff