Write Team: Storytelling is the most effective source of teaching and inspiration

“The society we live in today could not exist without the influence from past generations to the next ... Storytelling has earned its place as the most important tradition humans possess.”

That’s a quote from a storytelling conference I attended in 2015 at the Hideaway Inn, nestled in the mountains of Colorado Springs. The conference was led by Carol Kuykendall, a nationally known storyteller and storytelling coach whose passion is helping others write and tell their stories.

In a time of smartphones, computers, 5G, and all the other types of communication available today, why would we need the ancient practice of storytelling?

Because we need to tell our stories! We need to talk to each other, look at each other, laugh together, share, sing, pray!

Consider the last time you met with family or friends of various generations – how many could resist looking at their phones, even during a meal, or a brief visit?

I am happy to be back on the Write Team, and yes, I will be telling stories!

At the storytelling seminar in 2015, I learned some of the benefits of storytelling:

–Owning your story and giving it away can help others.

–Sharing our stories helps us know ourselves and get to know others better.

–Stories can be in three tenses: past, present, and future. Past stories tell how we became who we are today.  Present stories tell how we came to see things differently – changing our minds about something. Unfinished stories give us clues to who we are becoming.

–Sharing stories provides the feeling of connection that we all need.

–Learning to pay attention to others and listening well produces empathy and makes others feel their lives “count.”

I received a Family Conversation Pack as a Mother’s Day gift. It consists of cards that suggest topics for family or group discussions, just for fun.

As we grow older, we may find ourselves repeating our stories. This is not simply because we forget, it’s because we enjoy telling our stories. Indulge us!

I recall an elderly neighbor who enjoyed a weekend visit from his family. When I asked if it was a good visit, he looked disappointed and said, ”I wanted to talk about the Depression.”

While that story may bring a laugh, it reminds us that people get joy from sharing their past experiences.

In 2018 I was asked by the La Salle Library to lead an evening of sharing stories and discuss the value of doing so. I was surprised and pleased that among the attendees were six of my neighbors who came to hear me speak. I talked about activities that families can do together in our area, like bicycling the Canal path from Ottawa to Utica or La Salle.

After sharing some of our family stories, I opened the meeting for others to share “Minute Memories” from their families. I was amazed at the positive response. It was a fun evening and everyone had a good time.

So the next time your family or group of friends get together, turn off the television, put away the smartphones and share your stories! It’s especially fun if you have people from different generations.

And listen well!

Because storytelling has been the most effective source of teaching and inspiration known to man – imparting lessons of life to all ages.

Carole Ledbetter, of Ottawa, is the author of two books, “Carole’s Columns” and “Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life’s Changing Seasons,” and is a speaker consultant for Stonecroft Ministries. She can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia.com.