Everything has a beginning. Some are epic and glorious, some are rough and stuttering, but everything that is, had it’s beginning somewhere and somewhen. It’s often much easier for me to focus on the beginning of the story than pay attention to the myriad other beginnings that are happening right then.
Yesterday morning, Rebecca and I performed a tandem storytelling for 45 first through seventh graders. The theme for the day was Beginnings, and the story was a classic origins tale. As I prepared for the tell, I walked the stage and reviewed both the story and the backbone of the structure we had agreed upon to pass the story back and forth between us.
The kids filtered in and started to sit down on the mats in clumps and sprays, doing that hilarious butt-wiggle fidget that passes for stillness at that age. The landscape of the story filled my head and I drew in a deep breath…then the world folded in on itself. I looked at 45 kids and they looked at me. I realized I was responsible not only for beginning the story, but beginning a whole set of new relationships.
My relationship as a storyteller to the kids, as an audience, was beginning. Many of them had never been exposed to performance storytelling and their understanding of storytelling as an art and craft was also just beginning. Their appreciation of this particular story, and the culture that holds it was new and in my hands and words.
I let my breathe out and the story flowed. When I called on the kids to name plants and animals, fish and birds, as they were created, they leapt into the story and stayed with us through the whole tell.
Afterwords, Rebecca and I agreed the performance had gone well and the kids seemed to enjoy the story and the interaction.
She reminded me of the following quote she’d run across while teaching her college English course.
“…for as many times as the story has been told, it was always but one generation removed from extinction.” ~ N. Scott Momaday, “The Man Made of Words”
And that there, that nearness to extinction, is why we must continue to create beginnings. I’m blessed that I can be a part of that, every now and then.
The world is folding again. This is the beginning post of a series on storytelling on kelvinsaxton.net. New thoughts, new relationships. I’ll be posting each weekend, and then in between the more creative work of the upcoming Punk Hermes story.