Drink From the River of Story
“...Do not try to master story but rather drink from the river of story and encourage others to drink.”
Recently a friend of mine, Steve Stessman, recommended a book called, The Story Factor by Annette Simmons. Steve recommended the book because of the value he puts on story not only what he does as a person, but as a business leader.
I loved the book and have skipped 3 workouts to read it. If you have ever lived in Denver, you know you never miss the cool mornings and 5AM sunrises to exercise in the mountains, but this book was worth it. I have pages and pages of great stories, notes and recommendations.
One of my favorite quotes was this one, “The best storytellers do not try to master story but rather drink from the river of story and encourage others to drink. You can go to the river as frequently or infrequently as you wish from any point on the bank… we can ride it, use its power, even redirect it, but the river is in charge, not us. Any categories we impose on the river of story will eventually be swept away.”
I love the analogy of story to a river. So true. Not only because of its raw power but of its dynamic nature. Sometimes overflowing its bank and sometimes exposing soft, sandy river beds. A river can flow through shaded, cool forests and it can be a supply to endless crops in hot summer months. It can feed the creek behind your house and the lake you can’t wait to swing into on the fourth of July. Rivers can define boundaries and it can bring together communities.
Think of the best sources of story in your life thus far: Authors, Movies, Scriptures, Grandparents, Parents, Teachers. Whichever you think of - isn’t the first feeling you have one of warmth and excitement? When we are lucky enough to find these great sources of story in our life, we can never get enough. It is the tire swing, the perfect picnic spot, fishing, splashing, tubing, ice skating, bird watching.
Now think about one of those great sources of stories from your past. Think about what it means to you today. Does it have the same meaning? You may have the same feeling, but does the message mean the same to you today?
For me, I can think of teachers who I loved not because of their powerpoint slides or the textbook they recommended, but of the stories they shared. That means so much to me and I still feel that excitement today, but the meaning today is different than it was then.
That’s where this sentences resonates with me, “Any categories we impose on the river of story will eventually be swept away.” The category I gave those teachers was likely associated to whatever I was learning about (remember, my degree is in plant genetics, so anything with a little extra story was much appreciated). Today, while I appreciated that spice in my education, that original category has passed and now. Today, I label them as pure storytellers. To me, they were an Original that knew to influence me was to help me fall in love with the grandiosity of genetics, evolution and… plants. Funny as it sounds, they mean more to me today for being an original in a sea of PowerPoints, massive text books and syllabus, than for being great educators on the double-helix.
Story… the powerful river that is blindly mechanistic to one thing… influence wherever it goes for as long as it goes.
I hope whatever the source, you have a power river of story in your life and can share that with everyone around you.
Here is to great stories,