The Power of Story
My dad is one of the best storytellers I know. It doesn’t hurt that he has had an interesting life, growing up in Indonesia, the son of a couple who relocated from the Netherlands (another wonderful story), and subsequently marrying an American who convinced him to emigrate to the U.S. in the early 1960’s. At the family gathering for my mother’s funeral in 1992, he regaled his children with stories. I gave him a hand-me-down computer with word processing software, and convinced him to write his autobiography.
The family now has a written narrative to go with some of his stories. This is a blessing, because his children and grandchildren are scattered across the country, and chances for all of us to get together are limited.
When was the last time someone told you a story? The chances are that it is frequent and recent, such as telling a spouse or a friend about an incident that happened during the day. Stories keep us connected to each other and to the world around us. Most of the time, we just tell stories to each other to share our life’s journey, relating a funny or poignant event to family members or friends. But there is power in writing our stories down. It recalls formative times, and creates a written history. Research has shown that those who write down some of their life stories can preserve their memories. Story-telling has also been shown to stave off depression as we age. The act of remembering and committing memories to writing has clear benefits.
What does it take to become a storyteller? Very few resources are needed – pen and paper, or, if you prefer, a computer are the only necessary tools for recording our stories.
The next step is sharing them – the holidays are coming, and if you have an opportunity to gather with your families, share your stories. The potential topics are endless, ranging from a favorite place or event to your family’s background.
The possibilities are endless, “What I liked about your story is _______.”
Peggy L. Determeyer, PhD, BCC
Hope and Healing Institute Fellow