Muse Flash: Storytelling – The dreamer and the dreamed

By Al-Lisa Tresierra McKay –

A creaking, much like a tired bow dragging across a worn violin shifts back and forth, singing a familiar equable lullaby.

“A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is beautiful.” – Maurice Sendak. Photo: Cate Storymoon www.flickr.com

As noisy as it is, the old rocking chair is a welcome sound on any given night.

The children scurry to find their places on the grey and tattered knit rug, eyes bright with anticipation, bodies quiet and still. While outside the snowflakes continue to fall, also seemingly to each choose a destination. Grandpa is shifting his gaze from the patterns on the frosted window pane and deep into the fire. One long deep breath and a slow exhale, his deep gravelly voice breaks the silence and softly, thoughtfully he begins …

“Gather round, children. I have a tale to tell….”

Every story serves a purpose.

Perhaps history is nothing but a series of stories that, when told correctly, can teach us lessons, give us insights into a variety of concepts, relay a message, or wildly entertain us.

Storytelling is what connects us to our humanity. It is what links us to our past, and provides a glimpse into our future and possibilities. Since humans first walked the earth, they have told stories, before even the written word or oral language.

I believe great storytellers are dreamers. Their storytelling plays a role similar to that of dreams—anything can happen: the truth, a fantasy, deep emotion, the future, or the past. Storytelling is action-oriented—a force for turning ‘dreams’ into goals and then into results.

A storyteller is an alchemist, someone who can teleport us into the past, the future, a simultaneous present, or into pure fiction.

Every sound we make, every motion that happens, every breath exhaled, every star that falls is a story that has not yet been written. Life is but a dream and every dream is a script. Let that dream be spoken by a true storyteller, steeped in the craft, and you have a keyhole to another realm that will materialize all around you and maybe even become you.

For over 27,000 years, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods.

Aesop lived in the 500s BC, but his stories were remembered for hundreds of years without a single shred of paper or other printed material.

The first printed story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, was created and began to spread from Mesopotamia to other parts of Europe and Asia. When the story was finally carved on stone pillars it found its foothold in time.

We naturally desire to be drawn into the labyrinth of storytelling and we are inspired when a story builds up to a thrilling climax, followed by a satisfying conclusion.

Storytelling is how we tangibly extract meaning out of the human experience. It provides our eyes with shapes that we can recognize … letters performing like symbolic talismans granting our moments a beginning, a middle, and an end.

There are so many ways in which a story can be told beyond words.

The fine arts encompass many forms of storytelling such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, dancing, singing, composing, and writing.

Gals chatting. Felted dolls created by Al-Lisa Mckay. Photo: Al-Lisa Mckay

For a dancer, every step could be a word, every eight counts a sentence, and every transition a paragraph. Through body and facial antics so much can be conveyed and mimed, even an atmosphere can be transposed in this way, with just a single, silent body in motion and stillness.

For a musician, storytelling is often done by the changes in dynamics and tempo, with use of the rise and fall in melodic lines, the tension and release of the harmonies, and even with the use of rests. A good soloist will develop the phrase in a melodic line. A creative symphonic composer will describe an expressive idea by choosing an instrument or group of instruments that will appropriately work together to get a particular mood across.

Painters, sculptors, carvers, and artists of the like, use colour, line, gesture, composition, and symbolism to tell a story. They also can present narrative in many ways—by using a series of images representing moments in a story, or by selecting a central moment to stand for the whole story.

Dreams are storytellers and storytellers are much like Dreamers sharing dreams: visionaries, alchemists who pull imagination and cognitive concepts into tangible form.

As the cooler months set in, our days grow shorter while our nights extend. For a lot of people, this means a quieter existence and perhaps more time for cozy indoor gatherings. With a myriad of ways to connect through stories, may your winter be vast with inspiration, warm with laughter and movement, uplifting with the muse of music, and thought-provoking from the time well spent.

Life is but a dream and every dream is a script. What if every dreamer attempted to be a scribe with and beyond words?

As the great storyteller, Louis Armstrong, once sang… “Oh, What a wonderful world.”

Al-Lisa McKay operates Miss White Spider Arts in Williams Lake, BC—a fine arts business offering workshops, travelling theater, paintings, portraits, puppets, dolls, music, dance, sculpture, installation art, murals, and other fine arts. Find her on Facebook or on her website at www.misswhitespider.com.

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