I am sitting here by the fire working on an inspirational presentation for later this month. At this point in my life I finally feel qualified to give it.
Storytelling is hot. Podcasts and TED talks are knee deep in it, so much so that it seems in danger of becoming the next cliché. While most of popular culture deserves to become a cliché, storytelling deserves to be resurrected as the ancient communicative art it is.
For most of my life, and certainly for most of my life as an environmental biologist, I’ve had this feeling that I was privy to the solutions to big problems – those that dogged humanity on a big scale, such as how to live gracefully and beautifully during a time of increasing scarcity. After all, teaching it was my job. But informing is not the same as motivating. Lecturing alone is useless because it means the audience is responsible for motivation.
But now I have a story. I don’t want it or like it, but there it is. And when I connect it to a message of grace, truth, and beauty, it becomes an inspiration. Every decent thing I do in the face of my adversity becomes decent times two. And it should. If my story includes me doing thing X, then other folks know that they can probably do 2X. That’s the stuff of motivation.
And then there is this: Suppose every day we did something that was worthy of a story. That is the sign of a life well-lived. It is my goal every day, and I become intolerable when it does not happen for days. It’s not too much to ask, especially when one lives with the consideration of time suddenly getting very small.
Imagine your life as a story worth telling.