Emotion is our first language. Before infants understand words, they form memories based on the emotional content of their relationship to their parents and other caregivers. This emotional understanding doesn’t disappear as a child grows up, even though it may take a back seat to the written and spoken word. It is still there, available to be tapped in the right circumstances. Storyteller Michael Meade, in his extensive work with adolescents and myth, explains that when part of a story resonates emotionally with an individual, it likely holds a nugget of personal truth that may be exposed and understood. But there’s another dimension to a story, especially a myth or other cultural story: The available truth may go beyond the personal and also open up a connection to the unseen world of meaning that all people share because of our common origins.
My own experience in studying some of civilization’s oldest stories has taught me that it is the details of a story, the images that it brings to mind, that can unlock this level of meaning and energy by speaking directly to the unconscious mind. I’ve gone back to school to stimulate my own “narrative intelligence” and to learn how to coax that “story sense” out in other people. For, I believe that we all hold stories filled with deep significance — we just don’t always recognize them or take the time to slow down and savor them. Realizing that my stories dovetails with yours is the first step in acknowledging each other as fellow worthy humans and establishing a relationship. Imagine that happening on a worldwide scale, at Internet speed! Through the Story Field Conference, I hope to connect with other people exploring these ideas in theory and in practice.
Have a seat so we can talk for a while.