Storytelling has been a part of every culture through the ages. As a celebrant, it is one of the privileges of my role to be able to tell other people’s stories, whether their life story as part of a eulogy or their love story as part of their marriage or handfasting ceremony, amongst others.
The purposes of storytelling are as varied as the types of stories themselves; perhaps to entertain, educate, preserve cultural traditions, customs or ideas or instill moral values. Storytelling connects us to our humanity. It is what links us to our past, and provides a glimpse into our future.
Reasons why storytelling is important to us include;
- To capture memories so that they can enjoyed through revisiting or sharing with others for the first time
- To develop empathy through learning how others feel
- To see ourselves as we’d like to be; a heroine/hero, able to solve any problem, possessing magical powers etc.
- To act as a warning for what might happen if we forget the humanity of others
- To teach and retain a history of a culture
- To distract or divert our attention from the tough realities of life
- To intellectually stimulate
- To inspire (as in innovation, social change, etc.)
- To predict or shape the future
Perhaps the most important thing about storytelling is that it is something almost all of us can do. We do it in small ways on a daily basis; describing an incident that happened at work; passing on a piece of news we may have heard etc. Failing to tell stories within families and communities results in information, experiences and heritage being lost. For example, how many of us have regretted not asking someone to tell us their story before they passed away?
Whilst there will always be people who have a real talent for storytelling, tapping in to our own innate ability to tell stories, whether true, embellished or fantasy brings a richness to our own lives and those around us.