Monday, February 4, 2013

Telling -

Give, give, give--what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don't give it away? Of having stories if I don't tell them to others? 
Of having wealth if I don't share it? 
I don't intend to be cremated with any of it! 
It is in giving that I connect with others, the world and with the divine. Isabel Allende 

As I wrote yesterday, a dear friend of mine passed away on Sunday. She was a well-loved folklorist as well as a friend to so many people. It's been interesting to read others stories today of their interactions with her. I've wanted to share mine, but I'm not sure I can put it into words, or better, I don't have the story form yet in which to put it. 

We all have stories to tell, stories to share. 
Did you know:  
  • The human brain remembers best in narratives rather than facts, bullet points, lists? If information is placed in a narrative, it is retained.
  • Children learn best through stories. 
  • We think in narratives - rather than lists. Even if it's a story/list - first I did, then I did, then I did . . . 
  • When we tell stories we put that information out to the universe as a way of sharing a portion of ourselves. 
  • As people age, telling and gathering their stories becomes more important. For as well tell our stories, a portion of ourselves lives on long after we/they do. 
  • Every story needs 2 things - a teller and a listener.  
This is why I write - this is why I am writing my cancer story, one narrative at a time. I want my experience to live on, not necessarily for my audience, but for me. I share the raw, in-the-moment material because I'm afraid that once the immediate treatments are over, I will forget as I move on, and I don't want to forget - that would be a great tragedy, in my mind. And I believe I have something to share with others. 

When I teach - whether it's as a college professor or as a chaplain, I require my students to write their stories - the story of their first kiss, the story of their naming and name, the story of a moment their life changed, the story of a material object that's important to them, and then I ask them to tell their story, share their story with someone else. This connects us, builds community. And then the listener asks questions - not during the story, but after, to help the teller finish fleshing out their story. 

I connected with Polly on Friday, June 13, 2003. We had met over e-mails for a few weeks prior to this. I walked into the Alumni House at Salisbury University, in Salisbury, Maryland, to begin my work as a folklorist, assisting in gathering the stories of Crisfield, Maryland, a maritime community on the Eastern Shores of the Chesapeake Bay. I looked around for a friendly face, a familiar face, and I found Polly's. She walked to me, with her hand outstretched. She shook my hand, put her left arm around me, and began introducing me to those in the room. . . 

She lives on . . . someday I'll find the words to write my Polly story. For now, I'm holding the divine -

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