February 21, 2015
I am a story-teller. I have been telling stories in one form or another my whole life. Don’t believe me? Let me explain.
Growing up, we lived in an old ranch house on the outskirts of a very small town. What few friends I had either lived further out in the country or closer in town so I couldn’t just takeoff and go play with them whenever I wanted. My sisters were older than me by a few years so I was left to my own devices for entertainment. In my house you never claimed boredom because my parents were great and finding things for bored children to occupy themselves with, and believe me the activities were never fun!
When I came to live with my mom and dad I was about 4 years old. They converted the front porch into a play room for me and that is where I spent many hours with just my toys and my imagination for company. And that was when I first began telling stories.
In my playroom I had wonderful adventures. My stuffed animals and I were lost in jungles, swam great rivers, rescued each other from terrible situations, and managed to always make it back safe and sound by dinner time. Later I finally got horse models for Christmas one year and when Johnny and Jane West met Skipper from the Barbie clan it was a match made in heaven! Skipper was special-she was Gymnast Skipper-and she could actually ride Thunderbolt and Flame. Suddenly I had a character that could be me in all the stories and Skipper was always the heroine after that! She rescued Johnny West many times when poor Jane let him down after failing to stop the rustlers from stealing the cattle or warning him of a catastrophic flash flood.
My story telling didn’t just happen in my play room however. My parents were pretty old-fashioned in how they raised children. The old “children should be seen and not heard” was a favorite, as was their belief that a young child should be in bed no later than 8 PM. I have never been one who can fall asleep easily, and I am definitely more a night owl than an early bird when it comes to sleep habits. So there I would lay in the double bed I shared with one of my sisters, wide awake as I watched the light fade from behind the window shades as the sun set in the summer time. I would still be awake when they came to bed a couple of hours later, and I drove my sister crazy because I couldn’t lay still. So out of self-defense she began to ask me to tell her a story every night. And that was when my story-telling abilities really came into play. I would ask her what story she wanted to hear and then I would spin a tale until both of us were too sleepy to finish it.
It never occurred to me to write any stories down until I was in 7th grade. My literature/English teacher, Miss Van Gilst, recognized the story-teller in me and after reading several of my essays she encouraged me to take up a pen and write my own story for fun. I wrote my very first story, “A Puppy Named Peter” with a pencil on wide ruled paper and discovered where my heart truly was,
Story tellers have always been an integral part of any society. Before there was an alphabet and written words the history and culture of each clan was passed down from generation to generation through story tellers. These people were revered and held in high honor as without them the story of their people would die. Each story-teller had to learn their history and then create new stories about the generation they lived in so their story could be passed down to their successor.
We still revere story tellers today. But today the stories are much different. We tell stories about the way we wish things could be rather than how they are. Stories about love and romance, adventure and intrigue, family drama and laughter are what crowd the pages of books today. We want to live in the fantasy because the fantasy is better than anything we can ever experience in real life. We even take those stories and animate them. Movies about love and adventure always make a lot of money as people flock to the theaters to escape reality for a little while. We all want to hear the story. We want to be the heroine who falls in love with the dashing hero and rides off into the sunset with the perfect lover.
We also love to hear stories about ourselves and family members. How often have you sat by your grand parent’s knee, or maybe a favorite uncle or aunt, while they regaled the family with stories of their exploits as a child or young adult? We always remember those stories and find ourselves telling them to our children over the years. We add the stories of our own adventures and suddenly you realize you are now the family historian and story-teller as the children sit at YOUR knee while you tell them about your family and all the things that have happened through the years.
Story telling is an art. Not everyone can tell a good story, but every family, every society is blessed by at least one to keep the story going. Authors who go on to fame and fortune do so because they know how to tell a good story that everyone wants to read. Movie producers/writers make millions by creating stories that appeal to the masses. We love our story tellers and will pay to hear their newest tale. It is in our nature.
So were you born to be a story-teller? Are you the family historian, passing down the tales of your clan to the next generation? Or are you the one who sits back and lets others entertain you? If you are a story-teller, when did you first realize your calling in life? What made you want to start writing down the stories you heard in your head? I find it so interesting to hear how we all came to this place in our lives. Please share!