What drives the storyteller?

I saw Eve Ensler speak last night~ and it brought me back to the question: what drives the storyteller to speak? What process happens that forms the design of the story~ what makes it ok for one person to spend their lives creating horror stories, and another person hopeful stories…and what constitutes a hopeful story these days…because last I checked fairytales aren’t working.

My most honest personal understanding and is a series of stumbling….stumbling into storytelling as a means to survive and remove me from the reality I didn’t want to exist in, storytelling as an outlet for managing the shock and pain of losing a best friend to suicide as a teenager, storytelling as a way to be seen and receive applause on the stage, storytelling as a safe place to express the full range of everything one feels as a youth.

But then somewhere in there you start to realize that storytelling can be used to shape the world you live in. First as an outward bound instructor, you learn the most important feature of storytelling, how to present the information in a systematic way so that it would seem you are presenting a choice, when you are actually presenting your personal desired outcome: “We can stop early, and have an early dinner, but then in the morning we will have to get up and walk an extra five miles in the heat of the sun, and I heard there was an aggressive pack of coyotes that’s been breaking into food packs around here, but what do you want to do?”

And then somewhere in there, as an adult, you morph into someone who wants to influence the world, to leave a legacy, to give back. And now it gets sticky, it’s no longer a hobby, a past time, and outlet for your personal survival, what if the stories you tell can affect other people, influence other people’s outcomes, and shape our collective belief systems about the society we live in? Game on, right? Better not fuck it up. No pressure.

It was a treat to hear the cursory experience of how Eve stumbled into being the lynch pin of starting a global movement where woman could be warriors for the vagina. (This is where I confess to never having seen the play or been involved in the movement. I am a believer that you pick your passion, and the thing that calls loudest to you and don’t try to do everything everywhere on every issue, but take on one issue that thrills you and fills you with joy and gives back every time you work on it.) So I haven’t been in the empowered girl movement, but it was thrilling to hear how it all started, by Eve’s willingness to listen, to listen to people who hadn’t had a venue, and vessel, a stage, for their voices and their stories. As Eve listened, and reflected, she gifted these silenced voices into the world, and then it started…a global movement…from a few a stories about something people didn’t feel so comfortable talking about: the vagina.

I started My Planet as a way out of the world of negative and bad stories. I started My Planet because while our environment is in a devastating state of affairs, that line, that sentence, that story I just repeated, is just one line, one version of the story, and there are is a larger richer more empowering story that we, as people, can be sharing and telling ourselves. I started My Planet, once again, to use story as a means of personal survival. To take my time and energy and use it to lift up the stories we have forgotten to tell ourselves, that our planet, our water, our trees, our air, our rocks, grass, flowers~ are powerful tools for healing and well being. It sounds kind of corny when I write it like that. But it doesn’t feel corny as I’m reading the transcript from our next film about one woman’s healing journey of how plant spirits helped her recover from a bus bombing in Israel. As I dive head first into these stories, I am reminded, through Eve’s stories, and by looking at the table of my own, that more often than not, to be apart of creating transformation, to get to the happy ending we all love to get to (I do anyway) you have to be willing to go on the journey…to dive into the muck and sadness and devastation, and then you have to be willing to fight like hell so that you don’t get stuck there, stuck in that part of the story that is so weighed down by pain, and that you find your way out~ so that you are a facilitator, a guide, if you will, that takes people on a journey, through the woods, through the darkness, and out on the other side, so that when we leave each other, we are left with the gift of this story, that can live in our back pocket, and can be pulled out in devastating moments, and know that there is a trail, a path we can follow…if we dare.

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