Last week, I attended my first Testify ATX event - a monthly storytelling event where “true stories are told live.” The storytellers and their stories are curated and refined. I was there primarily to support my great friend (and officiant of our upcoming wedding), Bobby Hulme-Lippert. With McConaughey's charm and enthusiasm and the friendly suspense of Paul Harvey, Bobby told a story about buying an American Eagle shirt when he was in his early teens.
Bobby’s story and the other storytellers' stories returned me to my life-long fascination with storytelling. I come from a family of storytellers. I recall countless hours of stories told around dining tables, campfires, and lunch breaks in the hayfields or on cattle drives. This contrasted with a volatile and violent home life where few stories were told. Whether listened to live or read in a book, stories were soothing reminders of the potentiality of life.
Storytelling is a uniquely human trait. As far as we know, no other species collects and re-tells stories - at least not the way we do. Because of our neocortex, we have the unique ability to not just recall and tell our stories, but also stories we heard elsewhere.
Although debated amongst the elbow-patches crowd, storytelling is likely the oldest form of communication (the other being art). For tens of thousands of years, legends, rituals, skills, and more were passed down through the oral history of stories. Every indigenous culture was a storytelling culture.
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