Our Shared Stories

Oral tradition is basic to a tribe’s nature and character, indeed to the very cohesiveness of the group. It holds us together and gives us a common body of knowledge that motivates us, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. I spent four years as a children’s librarian/storyteller. I would travel to elementary schools and tell (not read but tell) stories. Even if I screwed up, the stories mesmerized the audience. The children loved a good story but the most appreciative responses came from adult audiences. You could see them transfixed, picturing the plot and the characters in their minds. The miracle is in the retelling. Many times after an hour or so of storytelling, adults would come to me and repeat what they thought the story was all about. Not only did they differ one from another but they also differed from the recognized intentions of the original authors. We hear what it is that gives us meaning.

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