ripe conditions

i just woke up from a marvelous revolutionary dream where i and a band of other storytellers infiltrated a closed community. we told stories of what was happening in other places, we were griots slipped into normal activities, responding to questions with authentic tales. a couple of us were caught as we left, our covers somehow blown, making no eye contact with our old and new collaborators while shouting ‘i am not afraid! i must tell the stories i have lived! I am not afraid!’

i woke up clinging to sleep, to the dream world, wanting to see more details, more action from these radical storytellers.

then i wondered, how did i come to have such an awesome dream? what created the ripe conditions for such a vision to arise?

perhaps it is because i am around my niece & nephew, who truly impress upon me that learning is an experiential activity. storytelling is a way to give someone an experience they haven’t had yet, or maybe didn’t even know was possible. my nephew, on the brink of 3, doesn’t respond to logic/reason. he responds to his own experience, strong emotion, or exciting stories.

my niece, who turns 1 on wednesday, responds almost entirely to emotions. this is one of my favorite times in baby life, because i love to feel. i spend so much time feeling that sometimes it is hard to articulate without catching the spirit when i want to share what i am feeling.

another condition was that the power went out last night while I was in the shower. we’re out in the woods this week, so the darkness was incredible, full of sounds. i finished washing by candle light, then listened to the wind. wind is one of my favorite elements, shaping everything, unseen yet undeniable. i love how it feels. wind makes me want to cleanse and change, bend into a new shape, and open up the windows.

my nephew was talking about ghosts yesterday, which always gives me chills, he talks about them so clearly. they can scare him (‘sometimes the ghosts wake me up! they go whoowhoo and make me wake up!’) or his friends (i have walked into rooms and seen him in deep conversation with playmates who seem to have a location). he sees the world as full, he has company all the time whether it’s those we see or those he sees.

organizing can feel like some kind of ghostlike crossing over, from a world of shared views that feels safe, to a world of difference that feels unpredictable. you have to learn how to be present, attend to the realities of a new world, while respectfully telling the stories you know.

in my dream that was the challenge, to be heard and not seen, reawakening what we believed was in the people, not bringing something new or overwhelming.

i have been reflecting a lot lately on how i don’t trust people with agendas, master plans. i think of those people as trying to create a new story for others, placing a massive end on the story, a period that only they can see.

for me, storytelling is an emergent process, a pollination-style intimacy, where the results can’t be fully predicted as the conditions shift.

in my experience the best storytelling is the best organizing…it’s rooted in a truth people have experienced, has some magic in it and something to long for, and a moment of beauty. but it is co-created as it is lived, no one can see the end of it. that allows people to stay in the present moment, and attend to the work before them with intention, seeing the story unfold with themselves in it, rather than directed, with themselves just outside the frame.

another lao tzu quote i read recently: “knowing how to yield is strength.” there is a deep yielding to being in the story, not an outsider. there is a power that comes from being part of the transformation within a story which you miss if you are constantly trying to be outside directing and managing it.

when i hear a good story i savor it, tuck it away to examine and imagine. when i tell a good story of something that moved me, i let the emotion of being moved come into the words, because i want to be moved again. i seek the miraculous and tender moments that make stories unique and great.

i love the dream because i could feel the closeness of this community of storytellers, our unspoken collaboration to liberate through inspiration, telling the quiet stories with our whole hearts.

the wind storm that knocked out the power last night became rain, and this morning the world looks clean and damp. my thoughts feel fresh, which is better than new.

today i am not going to push anything, just consider what stories i am telling, and what stories i am living.

1 Response to “ripe conditions”


  1. 1 Sumayyah

    “when i hear a good story i savor it, tuck it away to examine and imagine. when i tell a good story of something that moved me, i let the emotion of being moved come into the words, because i want to be moved again.”

    That is a very lovely sentiment. I shall try that myself. Thank you for the reminder!

    Peace & blessings!

  1. 1 complaints and truths | bodies of story

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