Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Listener's Tale: a myth remix

On February 23, 2012, I was invited to give a teleconference talk for the Healing Story Alliance. They have put it on their website, and here's the link: There are a couple of minutes of introduction, then a half-hour talk, then a kind of storytelling game. For the game, I asked the teleconference participants to remember a moment of extraordinary listening, and to tell it as if it were an episode of a bigger story, a modern myth. The hero or medicine spirit of this myth is, for the purpose of the game, "Listener": the force that enables us to listen to voices that speak to us from beyond our customary bandwidth of perception, acknowledgment, and understanding. In traditional stories, there's always a moment when the hero or heroine encounters a strange creature on their quest-road, maybe a mouse, or a beggar, or a crone ... sometimes a dream. The mouse speaks: "Share your bread and I'll share my wisdom." And while the older princes and princesses walk haughtily by, the true hero stops to listen, even to a mouse, a vagabond, or a dream. This moment of extraordinary listening is the first qualification of a hero. My own belief is that in our times, remembering the importance of this ability to listen beyond the bandwidth could end up being one of the most significant things storytellers can offer to our fellow-citizens.

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