Narrative 4 was founded by writers who believe that stories can unite us even when our nature, nurture, and experience are disparate.
In a profound and simple technique called Story Exchange, you tell your story, and then someone else tells it, again, in the first person. Imagine teens from high-need communities exchanging stories with privileged teens from pricey independent schools, or Catholic and Protestant kids in Northern Ireland exchanging stories, or people on two sides of an issue (say, gun violence) exchanging stories.
There’s a lump in my throat already.
The Family Tree of Stories
Stories have a lineage and it’s old. Red Riding Hood exists in 58 variations in 33 cultures. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin are 2,500 years old. The Smith and the Devil (a forerunner of the tale of Faust) is Bronze-Aged—5,000 years old. The story of the Cyclops Odysseus tells? It’s a Stone Ager—20,000 years old. The author of this wonderful piece, below, adds the beautiful metaphor—the same one that inspired my title, Hidden Roots—about how tree roots exchange nutrients and we humans connect. The Story of Storytelling, Ferris Jabr, Harpers, March 2019.
The Teen Brain (And Yours)
Finally, storytelling unites the left and right hemispheres of the brain. So when your kid – or your friend or wife or husband – has an experience, let him or her tell it—first, and maybe at length, before you interrupt to explain, advise, compare, and relate. Harder than it sounds.
Join me for a storytelling circle.
Wishing you a springtime blooming with stories.