Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rumi and Storytelling

If you have been to one of my 'grown-up' gigs, or even one of my family gigs, you might know I am a fan of Rumi. Rumi is a poet, and came from Persia, originally from the Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan. He lived in the 1200's.
Rumi once said to his soul brother, Shams of Tahris: "stories are reshaped in the light of the tellers own concerns." Stories change.
Often we talk about the original source when we are asked where we got the story from from. Or we say the 'oldest source we can find'. But in my brief life span, I know stories shift and change. Who can know what the original source is, and how different it is from how that story was first heard? When I teach the art of storytelling, I mention that when we tell a story we part of ourselves into it. Something in our life resonates with the story, and it might put a spin on how we tell it. Something in the story becomes more important than another part, so we emphasis it.
We can read all the stories we want, we can read all the self-help books, but we need to put ourselves into the story, and into life.
Rumi taught the texts as his father before him did. He would read from them to his students. Shams took the sacred books and through them into the pool of a fountain. Shams told Rumi to live the words he was teaching. He asked Rumi to "surrender the literature" for living.
To me, storytelling is just that. It has to be to be able to ride the elusive dragon. I want to surrender myself to the story, not the words, and be that conduit for the story. And I also hope to live life that way.

Words and photo copyright Simon Brooks, © 2017