Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Art of Story Telling

Story telling is becoming a lost art. I wish I were a good story teller, but I'm not. I've known some good story tellers over the years, but they are rare. I've known quite a few people who think they are good story tellers; they are much more plentiful.

One of my favorite scenes from a movie occurs in Out of Africa. While entertaining 2 guests in her home, the central female character of Karen Blixen, played by Meryl Streep, reveals that she is quite a good story teller. Her guests, one of whom is Denys, played superbly by Robert Redford, then ask her to tell them a story. She asks them to give her the opening line. After doing so, Karen takes over and weaves a long story that holds them spellbound. What a magical evening that must have been.

When we lived in the Middle East in the 1980s, we had little entertainment in the way of television, so we spent much time visiting with friends. We loved that time. It was great fun meeting new people. And each told a story in a way. It might not have been a story like Karen told in Out of Africa; still, the stories were interesting, and told of our new friends' homes and travels and adventures.

So many of the folks we met in those days were professional expatriates, meaning they were committed to living abroad. They moved from country to country, seeing things that most of us never see, experiencing things most of us only read about. Most of the people we associated with hailed from the US, Great Britain, Canada, and other western countries, and they brought such varied backgrounds with them. Many of the Brits, especially, had spent years in northern Africa, and they had such interesting stories to tell of those places.

What better way to spend a crisp autumn night than to sit around a blazing fire, hot cocoa in hand, and listen to a talented story teller weave a tale that entrances us.

I wish I was a story teller.

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