There’s Nothing Scarier…

…than what’s inside your own imagination.

Storyteller Donna Washington

Storyteller Donna Washington

Last weekend I attended the Garner Storytelling Festival at North Garner Middle School.  Kids were telling stories, and so were adults, including the renowned Donna Washington, a fantastic storyteller who kept both kids and adults hanging on her every word.

I think stories are so cool.  In journalism school, I learned how most of what we know about the world comes to us through stories.  It’s not like we’ve gone out and experienced everything that we have knowledge about.  Most of the things we know, we know because of stories: stories from school textbooks, stories from the news, stories our parents and grandparents told us, stories we hear from friends about their lives or something they’ve experienced.  (What else is the news feed on Facebook but a long list of stories?)  As the very wise Erin Coyle said to me this morning, stories are almost all we have.

Earlier this week I taught a workshop at Carol Woods Retirement Center on “How to Write Your Memoir or Biography.”  There are SO MANY people with amazing life stories out there, y’all.  I felt lucky to hear just a sample of some of their stories:  a woman traveling on a segregated train in the ’40s … a small boy learning how to make mini-bombs out of matches and bolts (he later got recruited by the Army) … another woman growing up in a small Nebraska house with no electricity and no indoor plumbing.  Funny stories.  Powerful stories.

Fear is a powerful story.  It was the first time I’d taught at Carol Woods, and I’m an introvert — I don’t like public speaking.  So before starting, I felt fairly nervous, anxious, and fearful.  Fear tells such a hypnotic, paralyzing story, if we let it work on us unchecked.  I might not have gotten out to Carol Woods to teach at all — and would have missed out on all those cool stories and the people who told them — had it not been for support from Erin, our friend Bernie, and my good friend Charles.  They helped tell me different stories about myself.

Donna Washington told a great story about fear at the storytelling festival on Saturday.

Now, when I’m afraid, THAT’S the story I’m going to try to remember!

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