Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Story snippet: If only...

First, a quick plug: 

This coming Sunday (October 4th) from 1 – 3 pm, Andrea Lovett, Michael Anderson, and I will be telling stories at Shelburn Farm

Already a fan of storytelling?  Then come on down!

Not really sure what storytelling means?  Then come on down!

Rain or shine, we will tell.  The performance is free and will be family friendly. 

Three Apples MassMouth!

Shelburne Farm 

Then, a quick aside:

One thing that listeners sometimes forget is that a story captured in a book is like a photograph.  As lovely as a snapshot of something you cherish may be, it’s not quite the same as the thing itself.  

The nice thing about a story is that it gets stored in a teller’s pocket like a little acorn.  When that story is pulled out, how it stretches up toward the sky depends entirely on the conditions surrounding it.  How does the storyteller feel?  How is the audience responding?  What is happening in the environment?

Now, onto the story:

The kernel of the story, which is what I’m sharing, kind of reminds me of a story Jay O’ Callahan tells about his path to becoming a storyteller.  If you’ve heard Jay’s story, let me know if you see the same connection.

Coming to this country is often an act of desperation and bravery --this was certainly the case for Seth.  However, he had always been a hardworking man and was certain he could find work in the New World.  Where he came from, he worked as the caretaker for the grounds of his place of worship.  It was a respectable job and one for which he was well qualified. 

Unfortunately, landing a job was much more difficult than he had anticipated.  Initially impressed by his experience and honesty, each potential employer immediately dismissed the possibility of hiring him when they learned that he was illiterate.  It soon became clear that Seth had no chance to resume the same livelihood that had supported him in the past.

Unsure of what else to do, Seth gathered the few remaining coins in his pocket, bought a few spindles of thread with them, and then set up a makeshift “shop” at a busy corner.  Once the spindles were sold, he used the money earned to buy some additional spindles and proceeded to sell them as well.  Eventually, he was able to make enough of a profit that he could buy needles, and then cloth, and then sewing machines…

After years of hard work, Seth owned a large, profitable chain of sewing supplies stores.

One day, Seth met with a bank manager to discuss a potential deal.  Eager to move forward, the bank manager handed Seth some paperwork to review which Seth admitted he could not read.  The bank manager, aware of the Seth’s success, was floored.  “I don’t mean to be rude, sir… but do you ever wonder what you could have made of yourself had you been able to read and write?”

I don’t need to wonder,”  Seth smiled, clearly not offended, and pointed to a building visible through a window behind the banker.  “If I had been able to read and write,  I would be the caretaker of that building over there.


Now, on to October!


Unknown said...

Great story. It's really interesting to look at where you are and what you've done, then remember what you've "missed out" on and wonder how things would have turned out.

AlwaysJoy said...

Elsa -
I swear this month (or at least this week) you have been writing to me!
Thank you!


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