"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

23 April 2015

Day 20 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge: T is for Truth

T is for Truth

"Is that a true story, mister?"

The most oft-asked question which comes my way after I've shared a story is, "Is it true?" Of course, it's children who nearly always ask the question. I suppose adults have grown up too long believing that "telling stories" is akin to "telling lies". Or they know me well-enough to know to suspend their disbelief when I tell a story.

But the question of veracity is an important one, deserving of our attention. "Is the story true?"

Like most storytellers I know, I often reply to the question by asking another: "Do you think it's true?" or "What part do you think was true for you?" That philosophical-teaching technique has been used for centuries, placing the onus of truth on the listener or reader. And if my listeners are interested in exploring the nature of truth in the story further, I often employ the well-used metaphor of an orange, explaining the the story may be colourful on the outside, but when you peel it you discover the real sweetness inside. "And the seeds too," someone usually shouts, to which I explain that perhaps that's where the "truth" of the orange lies. Such discussions with children are always fascinating and it's just one more reason why I love sharing stories with them.

Of course, I believe, as the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber once noted, that "all stories are true." If we live with stories long enough they will reveal their truth to us. What is true for you about the story?

This is a question I ask my storytellers when working with a story. What is your relationship to the story, to the characters, the setting, the language, the themes? This deeper work is essential, I believe, to being true to the story and that's part of the process of what I call my storycoaching. What is the truth of a story? Ah, that's up to you. . . you tell me.

So next time someone asks you if the story's true, peel the story back and let them taste it for themselves.

Testimonials

"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.