Friday, August 31, 2012

Wasting Time


Don’t think “liar” when I state the obvious here: I am a storyteller. Lying is not the storytelling definition I’m referring to. Instead, I speak of that quality many have: we enjoy the art of the story. Is there embellishment? Yes. Is there exaggeration? Yes. Storytelling couldn’t exist without either. However, what I’m underlining here is the source of this compulsion to tell. Storytellers must tell.

But not tattletales. Or braggarts. Nor gossip. Although juicy, those stories don’t satisfy because of one very “telling” flaw: they don’t appreciate the audience. Real storytellers turn to look at you with glinty eyes, and say “See that path? The twisty one through your imagination. Go ahead. Wait until you see what’s down there. I’ll show you the way. (But you go by yourself.)” Storytellers take us nowhere and everywhere simultaneously; the campfire fades away while the audience leans in closer, closer…. It’s the safest magic. Pure alchemy. And that sort of nonsense just makes me giddy, both the giving and receiving.  

So where does that quality come from? That urge to entertain? To preserve life’s moments? To caution? To teach? To inspire thought? I suppose, like everything, it’s a combination of nature and nurture. My nature theories lead me to an unlikely source: my Dad.

My Dad wasn’t the type to tuck us into bed with a story but he was my prototype, my original storyteller. Now, years later, he’s also the subject of some of my favourite stories. So what was the very first story he told me?

I warn you. It wasn’t long. But it said everything it needed to. It made my heart race. It left me speechless. It completely delighted and horrified me at the same time. It even taught me something. And I can still hear my Dad’s voice as he shared that first story (and quite likely my favourite shortest story) one day while driving me home:

“David. If you pick your nose and eat it, do you know what happens? Flies grow in your stomach.”

I thought about that for years. Years.

At the end of the story all we have left is the story. Eventually, not even the storyteller. Thank goodness stories are like living things. They survive for generations. So stop wasting your time doing so-called important things so much. Go tell some stories.

9 comments:

Adam said...

A little offtopic, but I remember when I found out one of my favorite stand up comics made up his most famous bit. Heartbroken.

Alistair said...

Lovely, dbs - lovely........

Laoch of Chicago said...

Nice: we live and grow through our stories.

Vinny C said...

Very nice. I may borrow your dad's story for when I have my own kids.

SherilinR said...

i hate stomach flies. they're so bumbly and disruptive to the digestive process.

wendy said...

I loved that. Oh, what else is new, I love all the stuff you do. YOU are an excellent story teller.
I loved the words you said of storys take us nowhere and everywhere...the safest kind of magic.
WOW
I do love to read and "loose myself" in a good book. Try to BECOME part of that story.

and your dad's little story...I'll have to remember that for my grandkids (tee,hee)

Munk said...

Which part of your dad's story is exaggerated?

neal said...

I've been trying to think of the best way to help my daughter let go of her booger diet. I'ma steal your dad's method.

CLR said...

Love it!

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