Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tell me about it! - Senior Story Circle at MPCC

Everyone has a story about a mother-in-law ruining the Thanksgiving dinner.

I have been looking forward to starting the Senior Story Circle with the new year. I grew up listening to stories from four grandparents, each a different flavor and repertoire, and have been missing the comfort of family stories since I came to the USA.
I gave up on the idea of "teaching" storytelling before we even started. For one, I don't feel like a teacher,and two, I selfishly wanted to listen to their stories instead of listening to myself. So we decided it was going to be a real old school storytelling experience: sitting around a table, passing the word from one person to the next.

I was genuinely surprised how naturally everyone settled into the pace of telling. After the first few shy stories, we just started passing the ball around. One story reminded someone of the next, and we went from fishing accidents to mother-in-laws to strong grandmothers to scary grandmothers to family history; then we went from old amusement parks to roller coasters to Swedish silver treasures to local Tennessee history.
I was even more surprised how naturally talented everyone was at finding good stories. Finding and crafting a good personal story is hard. You have to know what would be interesting for other people who don't know you or your family; you have to have a good starting point, a climax for the story, and a good ending point. Unlike many slam experiences, none of the stories were boring or awkward, and although some of them were very short and some of them were longer, all of them were intriguing, funny, and good to listen to. It felt like a group of people passing the word around, and there was nothing "classroom-y" about it.
All in all, so far it has been a great experience, and I learned to look forward to Monday afternoons with cheerful anticipation.

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