Storytelling—theirs, yours, God’s–can be a pleasurable activity you share with older adults. I come from several generations of story-telling elders, so I love to wade into the stories that others tell, and those I spool out.
Storytelling is a nearly-spiritual art that almost anyone can practice and enjoy. Although some stories can get out of hand—length, repetition, degradation of others—usually our lives are richer for the stories we encounter. The same is true, perhaps more strongly, for the older adults among us. The older adults and children inside of us!
Good stories—tales that are engrossing, delightful, memory-laden, ennobling, encouraging and relationship-building—have some common elements that make them work as pleasurable experiences:
• A tease at the beginning—“You’ll never guess what happened when Grandpa Orville was a little boy just like you.”
• A spiritual twist, emphasis, witness or surprise. Testimony with a story-telling face!
• An ending that satisfies curiosity and admiration—“And that’s why we never ate little green apples right off the tree, ever again!”
• Happy words and satisfying encounters.
• Interesting characters—“Your Great-Aunt Hattie collected funny hats.”
• Surprises in the characters, setting or plot line.
• Some phantasmagorical elements—events, contexts or people way beyond ordinary, perhaps even bordering on weirdness.
• An evolving and intertwined relationship among characters and plot—a series of smaller stories encapsulated within a broader, continuing narrative.
• A connection to both storyteller and listener—the bonding of spirits (and spirituality!).
• Wonder—“How could all of this have happened, or been so wonderfully imagined?”
• Incongruities, paradoxes or out-of-whack details—during the story-telling, these get smoothed into the larger pattern of plot or characters.
Enjoy ratcheting up your story-telling and -listening capabilities, and find a partner or two. Tell your story and then listen to what happens next.
You will be pleased!