What Can This Year’s Tellers Teach Us About Making Time for Story?
Anticipation is building for this year’s Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. We have a great line-up of amazing storytellers, including many familiar favorites as well as some who are destined to become new favorites. Looking at our line-up this year, I realize that we can divide the tellers between two styles of telling, those who are best known for their personal stories and those who are known for their interesting twist on world stories. Each of them have evolved in their storytelling from telling to listening, from entertaining to conjuring stories from others. The two tellers we are highlighting today have much to teach us about how and why to make time for personal stories.
Only those who are new to our festival will need an introduction to our first highlighted teller. Donald Davis has been with us from the beginning and since that second festival he has delighted our audiences with his hometown characters and timeless truths. Over the past 26 years, he has encouraged us to use his stories as inspiration for collecting and preserving our own family stories.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend one of his workshops, read his books and listen to him in a variety of settings. Through all of that I have learned that the value of a story comes through repeatedly telling the story. Each time we tell a personal family story we learn something new about ourselves from that story. In a Ted Talk published on Dec 24, 2014 titled How the story transforms the teller Donald Davis explains “You’re not telling the story to tell what happened, you’re telling the story to change you.”
So those stories you tell around the family dinner table, or at bedtime, are not only preserving your family history, but can also help you learn more about yourself if you remember to think about what you or the other characters in the story learned from the experience. That is key. Don’t just tell what happened, tell what you learned from what happened. Those are the lessons that will stick with you and with those who are listening to your story.
Our second highlighted storyteller is Kevin Kling. He, too, is a storyteller who is best known for his personal stories. He has become a favorite of the festival in the last few years because of his hilarious adventures, quirky characters, and triumph over struggles. When I listen to Kevin I often find myself laughing until I cry and then sitting in awed silence with tear filled eyes as I absorb the inspiring message that he tops his stories off with. For me, he makes the invisible visible.
If you really want to get to know Kevin Kling watch the new PBS documentary which aired in April on his life and work called Kevin Kling: Lost and Found. In it he says, “Our stories do so many things for us. They can explain our histories, they can give us morality, all these things. But I think that the best thing we can hope for them is that they help us know that we belong, how we fit in the world.”
“I think one of the main roles of storytelling is to get through a loss. If your telling a story it’s through your vernacular, it’s through the way you see the world, and as soon as you can tell it you have already taken a step away from it and are looking back at it, which means you have started to control something that used to control you.”
In a podcast interview from On Being given on May 19, 2016 titled Kevin Kling- The losses and laughter we grow into Kevin explains why he tells stories. He said, “Our stories ask our big questions.. and by the asking in front of people and with people, even if we don’t find the answers, by the asking we know we’re not alone. And I have found that often that’s even more important then the answer.”
“We live our lives as stories. We are stories.” Kevin Kling
Join us on September 1-3 to hear these great storytellers and more in person. If you have learned something about making time for story, please feel free to share in the comments below.