Guess What I Can Do? – When I Discovered Storytelling

What were you going to be when you grew up? A nurse? Firefighter? Doctor? Policeman?

When I was eight, I knew what I wanted to be — a travel agent. At that age, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure a travel agent did. However, it had the word travel in it. Couldn’t be that bad, right?

I remember using my Rainbow Bright faux phone to call the head office to ask about travel packages for my client to meet Jessica Fletcher in Cabot Cove for a book signing.

My knowledge of far away places outside of my small mountain town may have been limited to what TV stations we got during the 1980s.

I was going to be a travel agent. I just knew it. Or at least that was the plan until one fateful day right before Christmas break.

The Friday before the two-week holiday break was a throw away day. The teachers would sign-out the TV and VCR cart and let us children spend the afternoon watching movies while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.

My favourite film was “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Who wasn’t excited when Clarence got his wings at the end?

But on this particular holiday countdown afternoon, the teacher gathered us on the carpeted floor. However, there was no TV. No VCR. In their place at the front of the classroom was a wooden stool.

What is this? I thought. I figured our teach dropped the ball and there wasn’t a TV left for our classroom.

“Children, I would like to introduce you to Patrick, a storyteller.”

Patrick* was a man who looked better suited to be driving a semi-truck and not talking to a classroom of third graders. He was wearing a baseball hat, jeans and a flannel shirt. He had a full beard and piercing green eyes.

“Have you ever stayed a bit too late at a friend’s house and had to go home in the dark?” He started one tale. “Well, I have a cautionary tale for you.”

Patrick started weaving a tale of an encounter in the forest with a strange man who said “guess what I can do with my long bony finger and red ruby lips.” Patrick talked in detail about the noises in the forest, the illuminating moon beam and the fear in his heart.

As he spoke, the entire classroom was hanging on his every word. Our mouths were open, our eyes big and we were barely breathing. He had us enraptured with his spoken words.

I have a feeling the teachers were jealous of the trance he put each of us kids into — it was the first time all week we were quiet.

“I was banging on the door, yelling for my mom to unlock it and let me in, when the man with the dark hat and long coat stepped out from the shadows.”

All of us held our breath.

“‘Guess what I can do with my long bony finger and red ruby lips’ and I didn’t want to know. But he brought his long, bony finger up to his red ruby lips and then he –”

There was a long pause before Patrick strummed his lips with his forefinger, cracking up a room full of third-graders.

I went home that Christmas break and told my family the tale.

But I listened to their tales with a new perspective. I heard my mother telling my father tales about her day at work. I heard my sisters tales about why she wasn’t talking to her best friend for the third time that week. I heard my aunt tell the tales of what my cousin did to be grounded the whole holiday break.

Guess what I can do? I can tell stories. There’s a storyteller in all of us and a desire to hear stories. What is your story? There’s a world out there waiting to be enchanted.

 

*Patrick is the name I give the storyteller for it is one part of my memory that has been forgotten.

 

There’s No Place Like My Creative Space.

DorothyOne of my mother’s favourite stories to retell is the day my sister and I attempted to travel to Oz during a Colorado snow storm.

Growing up, I obsessed over the movie The Wizard of Oz. I would wait for that one special night a year when the movie would be featured on one of the local broadcasting stations, obviously before playback devices or Netflix. There was something about that ordinary girl from Kansas who got transported to a beautifully colored world only to learn how powerful she was all along.

Our hometown in the mountains of Colorado were not susceptible to tornadoes, so I had to make do with what major weather we did have – snow storms. Our one-storey house was built into a hill, that if you climbed up a few feet, one would have access to the flat roof. (Yeah, in Colorado.

It was the first of the season on this particular day, big white flurry flakes fluttered from the sky only to melt, disappear and blend in with the roof of our one storey home.

My sister and I waited for the temperatures dip enough that the snowflakes started to stick to the ground. It didn’t take long for the snowflakes to layer one top of one another, building up a soft pack.

The two of us bundled up in our winter clothes, grabbed a few brooms and headed for the roof. In our own little made up version, my little sister and I reenacted the swirling tornado by swirling around on the roof with broomsticks in the snow. The bigger the circle the better. We would throw our heads back to catch the flakes, laugh and try again.

Bigger. Bigger.

It didn’t work. My mom called us in to warm up for dinner.

I don’t know that we actually thought it would happen. It was about enacting one of my favourite films while tapping into my creative side. It was just fun to play in the fresh snow, swirling this way and that way. Making up a story and characters only the two of us can see.

There are days I feel bogged down in reality, structures, duties and have-tos. I crave the days where I can just abandon the mundane to just enjoy the world as it is around us with a hefty dose of imagination.

Instead of longing for the days of yore, perhaps it is up to me to find my new “roof” and “snow storm” to put my imagination to the test.  Transport myself to my own creative space — where I can let loose. At least until it is time to get warmed up for dinner.

There’s no place like my creative space.
There’s no place like my creative space.
There’s no place like my creative space.