“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou
For the last four months, I’ve worked with elephant journal as an apprentice editor, writer and social media content manager. Over this time, I picked up the technical skills for writing and social media publishing, but I hadn’t quite found my creative source for producing a mindful story.
I mean I worked hard at thinking up ideas, inspiration and story leads, but I struggled with connecting my message with the reader in a way that would draw them in to the story.
Then she arrived, my inner Storyteller.
She’d always been there; I just wasn’t paying attention to her, so she was asleep.
It happened quite by chance, after a ten-hour overnight flight from Australia to Phuket, Thailand and a quick recovery sleep at the hotel. I woke early and eager to explore the island.
I set out by foot in the morning, just as the sun was peeking across the land, and found Kamala Beach. Intrigued by the beauty of this place, my inner Storyteller woke up. She took my hand and led me across the beach, we stopped at times and looked out together across the water, feeling into each moment. Here’s what we found:
It was peaceful, the busyness of the day had not yet started. The air had a coolish edge with a sort of stickiness that covered my skin. The sea was clear, smooth and emerald green, and a soft orange hue glowed across the sand. Strangers passed by, nodding and smiling. Shopkeepers made a slow walk to their stalls as the markets began to take shape. Long boats, bobbed on the water, anchored just beyond the shallow waves that broke half-heartedly on the shore.
As I reached the next property along from my hotel, there was a clearing with some debris of trees and pieces of driftwood, perhaps carried by the ocean and I wondered about their origin. A little further along we found their story on a memorial wall.
Twelve years earlier on 26 December 2004, just after 7 a.m. on a morning much like this day, an earthquake struck the island with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. The quake triggered tidal waves rising up to 12 metres high toward the small islands in the Phuket province. In its path along the west coast of Phuket, the waves left behind a tremendous loss of life and property of the people living here (including on Kamala Beach). Around 8,000 people in Thailand lost their lives and many of them weren’t found.
The chaos and tragedy of that moment was still present in some way, albeit with peace now. The village had rebuilt its shops, homes and tourist hotels, but the story of this place remained a powerful reminder of the fragility of life, and the remnants of that story transformed my sense of “here and now.”
I looked out at the people there again, and watched the children in their morning play, too young to have witnessed the power of the sea that day, I admired their resilience and trust in the ability of nature to rebound. I was humbled by the spirit of the land to hold the memory of that moment.
This week, our Earth home rumbled again, with two earthquakes in the southern region of Japan, more in Ecuador, and further in Fiji. The lives of those impacted by this is again profound. Because we cannot live in fear from one moment to the next that all that we’ve built and created may crumble and abandon us, we as a community look for something other to lift and unite us.
With each footstep along the sand, I felt the company of my inner Storyteller, grateful for her compassion and wisdom in feeling the story of this place. Without belittling the devastating experience of the people living in this area, she showed me that stories are a bridge to cross over with our life experience, and to make them palpable to a global and conscious community.
She showed me that the value of a story is its ability to transform the teller and the tale in some way from its beginning to its end; all with the magic touch of creativity and imagination to embody the story and give it life.
Here are four ways I found to wake up and connect with my Inner Storyteller:
- Listen to your inner stories.
We each have stories to tell. They may be waiting in a place you visit, or even stored in the physical motion of your body. Sometimes they are locked away in our collective experiences, or they might emerge through playful daydreams, or be submerged in our sleeping dreams where a last glimpse of the tale leaves as we wake.
Sometimes our stories come out eloquently and politely, even poetically, and other times they circle like sharks repeating themselves with little intent other than fear or annoyance. There are many ways to tempt your stories to flow, and when you hear that inner voice of your Storyteller, keep her company close, listen and feel the moment with all of your senses and you might find the real treasures in your being.
- Go to the edge of your emotions, then come back a bit.
The edge is the place where your emotions are strong. The edge can be where transformation and healing occurs. Be aware and watch for what triggers your strong emotions, pain or feelings that take you to the edge, this might be excitement, happiness or anger, and see those feelings, name them, now come back from them, move away from the edge so you are not entangled or overly persuaded by them. Now write.
In this way your stories, while having the power to touch others in a very personal way, will connect with your emotions, but won’t be weighed down by emotionalism as you’ve moved through the process of understanding what those emotions mean.
- Find your antagonist.
A story is more than a beginning, middle and an end. There is a classic story convention that enables the magic of the story to unfold.
Firstly, there is a protagonist, this is the main character or the hero of the story who has a goal or mission to undertake (this might be you).
Then there is an antagonist, this is the trickster of the tale. If you are like me, you are likely to encounter a high number of antagonists across your path each day, they are the annoying obstacles or people in our way that deter us from reaching our goals, they delight in sending us down blind alleys, or into the quick sand. All of these obstacles are important in providing the dramatic action to your story.
In the telling of the tale through this structure, the reader is gripped by wanting to see how “the hero” struggles to overcome obstacles, sharing the wisdom and joy of the lessons they’ve learnt through the experience.
- Find the magic in the moment.
In every moment we can be a child again, untouched by our own or others’ judgment. By keeping in-touch with our inner Storyteller we can also be a child in her care. She’ll guide you to the stories that show you the beauty in the moment of now. Trust the Storyteller in you to take you into your own lightness of being where your heart dances across the “now” moments, and connects you with the lightness of your child-like imagination again.
There are many stories worth telling, and our inner Storyteller is a great teacher when we learn to quieten our mind and listen to her tales as she reveals her wisdom.
I may not yet have the skill and imagination of the legendary queen and the Storyteller Scheherazade, or have her power of crafting magical stories each night as life-saving as the Arabian Tales of One Thousand and One Nights. But I hope the stories that knock at my heart, or that circle like persistent sharks in my mind chatter, or even the ones that fall at my feet unexpectedly might be crafted to be of benefit to more than me.
Retrieving the stories that lurk in our psyche, or dance in our imagination have a transformative power, not only for the teller of the tale, but also to those who sit patiently waiting to be touched by the magic of the story as its wisdom unfolds.
Go find your story teller. The world is waiting.
Author: Roslyn Walker
Editor: Caitlin Oriel