Monday, March 22, 2010

The Storyteller’s Daughter

I've been in touch with a cousin this past week, discussing our family genealogy. He has spent untold hours tracing the branches of our colorful family tree. The colorful part is accentuated by his uproariously funny storytelling ability. I’ve been reflecting on that gift the past few days.

I recently read The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah, a tale of an Afghan woman who was raised in England but developed an insatiable thirst to taste and see the wonders of her homeland for herself. (Not surprisingly, the actual experience was a harsh world away from the poetic descriptions of her father.) Her story contributed to my thoughts about the historical importance of storytelling.

It takes very little prompting to get my mom rolling with retelling family details and exploits. She loves that I’ve at last become interested in listening and she encourages me to write them down. She was an elementary school librarian and I suspect she’s remembered by many of her students as the queen of storytelling.

I think blogging is a modern version of storytelling. As important as oral traditions have been in anthropology, there are inherent shortcomings. Important truths can be lost in translation and are only one generation shy of being lost forever. Have you ever considered that your blog is making history? A humbling thought. I sort of want to make a print book of my blog but haven’t taken the time to do it.

Make no mistake about it, the verbal storytelling tradition continues loud and long in our family. My cousins, my mother, my offspring and I have this attribute. Our listeners may consider it more of an affliction than an attribute. We’ve been accused of not only embellishment but even fabrication. No way, I say, couldn’t be, who me?

Which brings to mind Dr. Suess, one of my favorite storytellers of all time;
“Thank goodness for all of the things you are not!
Thank goodness you're not something someone forgot,
and left all alone in some punkerish place
like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space.
Thats why I say "Duckie!
don't grumble! don't stew!
some critters are much-much,
oh, ever so much-much,so muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”


Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Truer word have never been shared. One of my best friends, skoots1mom (blogger pal and FIRL) shares all the time that her blog is so the her daughter will have some kind of written record to look back upon. I often think of that as well. How wonderful that the small things and the big things that happen in our lives can be retrieved with just a click of our mouse.

Wonderful!!!! It makes me sad that I did not have the understanding when my grandmother was still with us. There are many time I think now "I wish I had written all her stories down." I have thought about trying to recreate them, but there was just something about sitting and listening to them that was so special.


Ballerina Girl said...

beautifully worded, you are a story teller!
I like Dr. Seuess so much, much, muchly much ;)

My in-laws tell stories all the time while they spend 3 months with us every year. My son especially has picked up and remembered most of the stories.
This gives me thought to encourage him to continue to also retell them.