“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Real listening is a skill that takes practice. Developing the habit of listening can improve your relationships, your careers, and even your next experience at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.
Alan Alda once said, “Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.”
So, how do we practice listening? How do we move beyond simply hearing something? Real listening is about focus and concentration. Eudory Welty, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Optimist’s Daughter explains, “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”
We have a wealth of resources that can help us develop the skill of listening. Here is a list of some of the best that the internet has to offer.
True stories told by ordinary people:
This American Life – This award-winning radio program has one of the most popular podcasts on the internet. There is a theme to each episode and a variety of stories on that theme. Recommended stories- The Super or Switched at Birth.
Serial– A podcast spin-off of This American Life which debuted in October of 2014. Serial tells one story- a true story- over the course of an entire season. The first season is a story about the disappearance of a popular high school senior.
The Moth – “True Stories Told Live.” The live broadcasts originated in New York City but have become popular throughout the country. These are real people telling stories of ordinary life, with extraordinary skill. There is some explicit language in some stories. Recommended story- Fathers.
Story Corps –StoryCorps mission is to collect a vast archive of stories for future generations, to teach the value of listening and that every story matters. Recommended story- Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel, a mother speaking to the young man who murdered her only child.
Snap Judgment – If you love music you might like this new show from NPR which melds music with stories. Recommended story- Mystery Man.
Radiolab– Stories about science, technology, and the human experience. Recommended story- Space.
Selected Shorts – This weekly radio broadcast, one of my personal favorites, pairs great literary short stories with fine actors. You can’t go wrong with any of their selections so find the latest free podcast here.
Mercury Theater on the Air – Orson Welles and John Houseman started this radio theater. Their notorious broadcast The War of the Worlds allegedly caused mass panic. Try Three Short Stories: I’m a Fool, The Open Window, and My Little Boy
The Apple Seed – You’ll find many of your favorite tellers from The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival here. This BYU Radio broadcast offers pure contemporary storytelling at its finest. Recommended story- From Sea to Shining Sea.
Wiretap – This unique broadcast comes to us from CBC Radio One. Jonathan Goldstein brings us stories that are comedic, absurd, unexpected, and wholly engaging. It’s unlike anything I have heard before. Recommended story – Help Me, Doctor, Kafka’s Gregor Samsa seeks professional psychiatric help from Dr. Seuss.
CBS Radio Mystery Theater – I loved listening to this as a young girl when my family would take long car trips.I suspect that my dad drove around a few extra blocks as we hung on to hear the door swing shut just after the host, E.G. Marshall said, “Until next time… pleasant dreams.” Recommended story- Resident Killer.
Radio programs and podcast episodes aren’t the only way to listen to great audio recordings. Your local library has audiobooks available, often for no cost to download. Recommended story- Harry Potter series narrated by Jim Dale, one of the best in the business.
What are your favorite sources for audio stories? Let us know.
It was such a wonderful year for the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and so it is no wonder that we are having a hard time officially saying goodbye. But, alas, all things must come to an end—and besides we have some fun things coming up in the next couple of months. As we make our final goodbye, we offer this look back in pictures at the 24th annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival:
All photos were taken by two of our fantastic volunteers: Laren Helms and Tom Thurston.
There is an old saying that goes something like “Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Wise words, indeed. Why is that true? Is there a story behind where those shoes have been? Does knowing that story make a difference? Perhaps more importantly, where will those shoes go next?
On a lighter note, you can learn a lot about a person by the shoes they wear.
When I was in high school, I had a crush on my senior year English teacher, Mr. Curtis. He didn’t stand up front and lecture to us. Instead, he would sit on one of those plastic, bright-colored classroom chairs – you know, with the mini table attached to it. He sat all hour in a circle with the rest of us. He used to lead us in fascinating discussions about literature and the world from whence those words came. He taught me many things. He was kind, fun, and creative. He wore black Converse shoes to school. Every. Day.
Also, when I was in high school, I had a crush on my senior year boyfriend, Ben. (Much more appropriate, don’t you think?) We used to go to our favorite place, St. Edwards State Park. We would hike down to the lake and find a spot to sit beneath the great evergreen trees and listen to the water lap against the shore. We sat together and read stories and poetry to each other. We would dream about our lives after graduation and the adventures that were waiting for us. We talked about many things. Most of all, he was kind, fun, and creative. He also wore black Converse shoes. Every. Day.
Fast forward 15 years or so, and guess who I still think of when I see black Converse shoes? Mr. Curtis and Ben, of course, two of the most kind, fun, and creative people I have known.
Last week, when I first saw Josh Goforth play his fiddle at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, it didn’t take long for me to notice his shoes, as he sat up on the stage, stompin’ his feet to the rhythm. You guessed it – he was wearing black Converse shoes. Through words and music he led us on some adventures back to his home in North Carolina and inside his heart. I had a chance to speak with him a few times, and I realized he too is kind, fun, and creative.
It all sort of comes together, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder I get a good, warm feeling when I see Converse shoes.
What do you think of when you see Converse shoes? What about your shoes? Is there a story behind where those shoes have been?
MINI QUIZ: Who else came to the Festival wearing black Converse shoes? Do you know? Can you guess?
If you had been sitting in the River Trail tent at Thursday night’s “Look Who’s Talking,” you would have seen two small children riveted to the stage. These children were Syd Lieberman’s grandchildren and this was the first time they had seen their grandfather perform on stage.
A few months ago, Syd sent an email with some exciting news. His daughter, Sarah, and her family were coming to our festival. Even though their Illinois home is closer to other festivals, Syd said there was no other one as family friendly as the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Sarah was bringing her two young children, Ezra and Zella, to see Syd on stage. He had often told them stories at home and at pre-school, but they had never seen their grandfather perform on stage. Syd couldn’t think of a better or more friendly place to have them come.
When they arrived at the park for the first time, Syd told Ezra he would be telling his stories on stage. Ezra exclaimed, “On stage?!” When Syd began telling his story, Ezra and Zella’s faces lit up. They clapped and smiled and loved hearing Grandpa Lieberman tell a story about their own mom when she was younger.
Besides hearing their grandfather, Ezra and Zella were very excited to hear Ed Stivender in person. They had listened to his CDs several times and when their mom told them Ed was going to be there, they couldn’t wait. Sarah said it was like meeting a celebrity when they met Ed.
What an honor it was to host Syd’s family and create that amazing opportunity for Ezra and Zella to see their grandfather perform on stage many times and be loved and cheered by the wonderful people that attend the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.
We have so many things to be grateful for (no downpour during Laughin’ Night, to name just one) and a great many thanks to hand around. Here are just a few (mixed in with a few pictures of thanks left for us by a few of you).
Thank you to our sponsors! You are so wonderful and great. Thank you for catching the vision and power of storytelling and helping us to spread this message.
Thank you to our food vendors. We love yummy food and you give it to us at a great price. Thank you to our bus, shuttle, and golf cart drivers who get us around safely. And thank you to our potters, puppeteers, and musicians. You make the time between stories so very enjoyable.
Thank you to our fantastic tellers! You let us wine and dine you and then work you nearly to death. You are the best and we feel so constantly amazed at your talents and willingness to share them with us (even in 90 degree heat).
Thank you to our wonderful audience! Without you, our tellers would feel pretty darn silly standing up there on stage. Thank you for coming year after year (24 of them) and thank you for bringing your friends and spreading the vision.
Thank you to our amazing volunteers. You are truly amazing! There are not words to express how wonderful you are. We simply would not be able to put on a festival of this magnitude and quality without each one of you.
And last, but certainly not least, thank you to the City of Orem. To the police, paramedic, parks and recreation, utilities, other unknown contributors, and especially the Orem Public Library we offer our biggest thanks! We think Andy said it best:
“I would like to tip my hat to the city of Orem, herself. How amazing it is that a municipality has the foresight and – dare I say – the gumption to create a city park that can be transformed into a magical canyon of listening, sharing, art and good cheer. (There is even a place for the snakes to feel welcomed.) I know the site has been there a few years now, but heed my council: never take it for granted.” —Andy Offutt Irwin