Friday, March 20, 2015


It never fails to amaze me how one can feel like a period of time has at once been long, AND gone by in the blink of an eye, and so it is for my time in China. I can barely believe that tomorrow, I will begin the journey back to the States - how could three weeks go by so very quickly, and, at the same time, feel like I have been away from my "regular life" for so long. I always say when I come home from any trip that it's good to go and good to come, and I am so fortunate to have a life that I want to go back , AND, equally lucky that trips like these are part of my life. I think that any travel is good for a person, the opportunity to go outside ones norm can only lead to growth, and awareness, so that sometimes the distance most traveled is the trip one makes looking inward, rather than any geographical distance. On the trip, I will quite simply say, that I fell in love with storytelling all over again. To spend this much time telling, talking about stories, watching the effects on both students and teachers, has made me even more committed to this art. In my "normal life" storytelling has to share the stage with my clowning, and my yoga teaching, both of which I LOVE, and both of which I feel only add to my work (if not also make my life a little nutty schedule wise sometimes), but here, it's all about the telling. And when one turns a microscope on something in this way, one sees more deeply. I was able to see how "letting go" of a story - and by that I mean, leaving room for the audience to supply some of the details, to guess at outcome, to figure out the riddles - really has the powerful effect of making storytelling what it is meant to be - a communal experience. I love the definition that a monk friend of mine gave of a community as opposed to a crowd - "A crowd is just a group of people. A community is a group of people working together at something greater than themselves." And in storytelling, what the community is serving is the tale. My friend, Sonia, who has brought me here to China has been reading a book by a scientist who says that though human beings have evolved in many ways, we have never gotten rid of stories - they are too much of who we are. Sometimes I read folktales, and I understand what the symbols mean, and I remember reading what Joseph Campbell and other scholars would say about things, but sometimes I just revel in the mystery in them, in the wonder of a landscape where princes can be trapped inside of a serpent skin, and a grandmother spider can bring the world light and heat. I like the idea that I am serving this mystery in this communal act that is storytelling. In a world where we are so very, very literal, and think we can invent all the answers, it's really great, I think to feel a bit at sea, to feel small, and that we don't know, to feel, to quote, for the billioneth time, my favorite author, Anne LaMott - WOW!!!! So, I a going home tomorrow, more in love with the WOW of stories, the inexplicable nature of some of these tales. And, I want to tell them not so I can figure them out, but that I can look at them the way I look at fireworks in the sky, and say "OOH! AAH!!! WOW!!!"

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