As humans, we love stories—the telling of, the listening to. Stories about when we were little, stories about our parents and grandparents, about ghosts and haunted houses, big fish, enchanted forests, once-upon-a-times. Most of us grow up hearing stories. It’s how we learn about who we are.
Some of my favorite stories are those I heard around the table in my grandparents’ kitchen, where everything of any importance happened and where many of my own tales were born. I learned a lot quietly snacking on my bowl of raspberries and cream as my mother, grandmother and aunts gossiped, conversed and prepared endless amounts of delicious food.
The thing about stories is that sharing them actually feeds us. They feed our souls and awaken things inside of us. The act bonds us as humans and we realize we are more alike than different. Moments when we can say, “That happened to me, too,” are healing and unifying. They bring us closer together and create a connection at a deeper level. Whether our stories are about kitchens and cookies or true love, we find common ground.
Tea and Empathy
Social media has shown that plenty of us want to share bits about our lives; a picture of our dinner, cats or a video that moved us to tears. When we get a “like” we feel noticed, but sharing on the screen is not as authentic as it would be over a cup of tea.
Our need for connection is why storytelling is so important to us; it lets us know others and it helps us know ourselves. As Brandon Doman from the “Strangers Project” notes, “Every person that you pass on the street has a story to share. We are all just waiting for the right time for someone else to listen.”
A Recipe for Sharing
Cultures around the world work diligently to keep oral storytelling traditions alive; which is evidenced in the resurgence of traditional storytelling though projects, podcasts, radio and live shows. In recent years, there has been a lot of storytelling activity in the Lansing area, with events happening monthly at local venues.
Over the last few months, I have attended a few of these events and was reminded of how much I love storytelling. I was so moved by all of the stories I heard – authentic, brave stories, funny stories, sad stories – told by people who were courageous, honest and willing to share.
If you haven’t been to a storytelling event, I suggest you give it a try. You may even want to get behind the mic yourself. In a time when society is becoming disconnected in so many ways, there is something so raw, human and intimate about telling and listening — like sharing a meal, breaking bread together and breaking silence.
To learn more about the celebration of storytelling in Lansing, check out:
The Michigan Storytellers’ Lansing Storytellers Guild; WKAR’s “Pop-Up Stories,” a collaborative created with Michigan State University’s Residential College; and the USA Today Network/Lansing State Journal’s “Lansing Storytellers Project” websites.
The next Lansing Storytellers Project topic, entitled “Lies”, will be held at the Tequila Cowboy Bar & Grill on March 21. WKAR’s Pop-Up Stories is at the Lansing City Market on April 27 and the topic is food. The stories will be undoubtedly delicious.
To Learn even more about the history and honoring of storytelling, google “Tellabration” and “World Storytelling Day.”