By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines
Long before man learned to put pen to paper, stories kept the history of human kind. Passed down from generation to generation, our stories weave the tapestry of who we are as a people, the perils and the promise, the struggles and successes.
One might think in this modern age of nonstop information, digital data and wearable technology, that we would have abandoned the need for sharing stories verbally. Thankfully, I’ve learned not only that the practice is alive and well, but also takes place often in the most unlikely places.
Recently I was privileged to attend a storytelling event hosted by my friend Michael. For more than two decades, he and some of his closest friends have gathered each year to share stories of all kinds.
Everyone brings a snack or beverage to share and gather, goodies in hand, to lose themselves in the tales spun by each reader. Those chosen to read take, in turn, the “reader’s chair” to share aloud an original story or a piece by a favorite author.
I’ve both hosted and attended author readings before. But I’ve never been to something like this. But there is no formal group or organization involved here. There is no religious or political agenda – something I found beyond refreshing.
The entire evening is focused, not the quality of the writing or the impact of the stories, but the fellowship and common interest of long time friends and new acquaintances. It was the modern day equivalent of a tribe sitting around a campfire.
What I was most impressed by was everyone’s level of attention, respect and admiration for the person in the reader’s chair. This was not something people were compelled to attend. There was no work obligation or social requirement.
And, while some of us who were there are writers, most were not. Add to that such a variety of people who really had only one thing in common – our host. One person whose circle of friends combined for this single purpose, a couple of hours of distance between us and the chaos of the world outside.
The stories chosen were also captivating, not as much because of the tales being told but the teller. Each reader had his or her own, individual style, some more animated, others more calm and quiet. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that in our “immediate” society, it was really nice to calm down, relax and just be there, in the moment, among friends and new acquaintances.
You know what else? No one was looking at their smart phone or any other kind of screen for a couple of hours! Sure people checked for texts once in a while from the sitter or verified the ringer was off. But, for just a little while, no one was nose-down into a glowing box.
It might sound corny to some people but there’s something great about the disconnection from the outside to connect with the in. That’s saying something since socializing is not my strong suit. I’ve never been that comfortable at social gatherings, always feeling awkward and out of place, but not this time.
Everyone was engaged and welcoming in this setting, with no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no business maneuvering. This was just some great people getting together to enjoy an evening of calm, thoughtful writing.
Yes, it’s probably a bit nerdy and may sound pretentious to some people. But, I can assure you it wasn’t. If anything, it gave me a break from the hustle bustle of the week and I got to see my friend Michael in a different environment, something we should all try to do from time to time.
Sharing stories creates our history and weaves our society together and we need to remember that it started with two people communicating with each other – directly, person to person. Try it sometime. You might just find you have more in common with those around you than you may have thought. And thanks again to Michael and his storytellers.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.