The Physics Of Telling A Story

I think most of us as children grew up with our parents reading to us. My father mostly worked nights and reading to us was something my mother did. However, I do have some very old fond memories of my father reading to me when I was very young. I do not recall the stories as much as I remember the feeling of how cool it was to have my dad reading to me. Blog #26 of “40 Blogs in 40 Days about 40 Podcasts” tells the tale of where I fell in love with telling stories told in Podcasts episode OHS025. As much as I loved being read to as a child, when I look back on my childhood I was mostly raised on television. I have so many vivid memories of my family cuddled up on the couch watching all kinds of Sci-Fi TV series and movies. Regardless of how I was raised as a child there is something very special about “story time.” I remember reading to my good friend’s child as a “stand-in” parent. I was amazed at how much that child loved listening to me read to her. Story time is a big deal. Even as adults we… well, most of us love a good story.

Physics, University of Washington, Inspiration, Blog, Storytelling, bedtime, children

Reading to children at bedtime is a very special, enjoyable, and beneficial activity.

When I look at what I do as an professional speaker, I tell stories. I have known for a long time I love to tell stories and listen to stories. This can be traced back to a time when I truly first understood the power and impact of storytelling. I believe it is important as storytellers to know that critical timeframe, experience, story, or moment we “fell in love” with telling a story. For me, understanding the where, when, why, and how it all happened has a reflective quality in my own personal storytelling. There is a connection there! If we can find that moment, or experience, that certain story, or whatever it was and really look at it, we find something there. If we can better understand the reasons why we love stories in our own personal flow through life, the better we can share our stories with others.

My love of storytelling unfolded in front of me in the most unusual of places. At least I thought it was unusual for me. It all blossomed while I was a college student at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. At first you might think, “this is not so unusual. Many students study writing, poetry, and even take speech classes.” What was so unique for me was my love of storytelling began in my Physics 101 class. It was the Russian born and educated professor of the class who made this possible. I had never had a teacher or a professor ever tell stories in the manner or the consistency he did. Toward the end of the quarter most students were more excited about what story he would tell us than learning physics.

Physics, University of Washington, Inspiration, Blog, Storytelling

The quality of a teacher is in not so much in what they teach, but how they inspires their students.

I look back at this one academic quarter while I was in college as the pivotal turning point in my love of storytelling. I learned a lot about myself and much more than basic Physics in that class. First and foremost I learned how to listen. I believe a good storyteller listens more than they speak. That is what I did during his short “story time” interlude during class. It was not only me who wanted to listen with more intention. I noticed the other students were also paying more attention. As a result he cultivated a class of listeners to the stories he told about life growing up in Russia and about teaching Physics. I also learned how excited people of all ages are to listen to a good story. The buzz before class was always about the stories he told and what he might tell. His humor and speaking style was matched only by his genuine sincerity in honestly sharing his life with us. Often we laughed, sometimes we cried, and other times we were left in an utter daze of “wow!” I felt the impact of his stories. They made me “feel” a way of life I knew nothing about. He took us there, connected to us, and gave us a nugget of wisdom with each story. In the end, though I spent all of my time listening, I fell in love with storytelling.

To listen to the story of my time in Physics 101 learning to love storytelling I invite you to click on the link and enjoy my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS025. Please feel free to share this blog or my podcast and I ask you to offer a comment with your opinion and feedback! Thanks!

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