This I Believe

John - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity

The Lost Art

I believe in the lost art of story telling. “Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story . . .” (Homer 1). I remember reading the Iliad and the Odyssey for the first time. I felt captivated by the way Homer described the sacking of Troy, and the trials of Odysseus. He flowed through words in much the same way a river runs through a valley; gently at times, yet with undertows that bring me back every time I tried to get out. When was the last time you heard a true story teller capable of changing the minds of men, and at the end of the story leaving the audience mesmerized and unwilling to go back into the real world.

I went on a trip to Greece this summer and while we stopped over at the island of Ithaca, on a cruise through the Greek islands, we heard a man tell us the tale of Odysseus, in Greek, while his nephew translated it into English. When we met this pair they were already part-way into the tale when we stopped by. Even though we did not understand the true storyteller I felt as though it would have been impossible to top the experience. As soon as we settled ourselves we were captivated. He sat there, his back straight and his head held high, as though he saw himself as higher than anyone, yet no one faulted him since when he talked his Greek came out smooth like honey. He gestured with his hands throughout the story, making archery gestures when he told of the suitors failing to draw Odysseus’s mighty bow. When he told of the battle in Odysseus’ hall many of us were on the edge of our seats in eagerness to hear the end. Yet, when he finished the story I don’t think anyone moved for like five minutes with each of us still caught in the web of his story telling.

I believe that storytelling is a lost art. To me storytelling is much more than a well-written book it is an art form. Does a painter use a chisel to create his masterpiece? Storytellers seem so rare now that it is much the same as an endangered species; you hear about them all the time but you never see or hear one. I think that if more people hear a real story teller there would be another kind of artist that kids could dream to grow up to be. It might just be that the art is truly dying out. Like a human with cancer, storytelling is slowly dying a painful death that for a long time went unchecked. Yet even now when people like myself might realize what is happening to it there seems to be little more that I can do other than sit back and remember the storyteller I met.