Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another look at story

I did a second Hazelden presentation this afternoon at a Women Healing conference near Tampa, Florida. I had a PowerPoint presentation that I worked through over the course of the 50 minutes, but mostly I told stories. I told what had happened during my spa day yesterday (see, and I was honest and real and apparently hilarious. I talked about my issues with sugar and how I got started with it when I was 8 or 9. I talked about how I got sober (a long conversation with my doctor). I talked about how I changed my relationship with my dad. How I came to understand that I may well have chosen alcoholism as a learning path for me.

Of the 50 minutes, I "taught" for 15 and told stories for 35. They laughed, they cried, they were with me. All in the power of story. Of sharing real experiences of what happens before and after sobriety.

And while I know that I'm articulate and have some presence in the classroom (I used to be an excellent professor), I also know that it's the power of story and channeling that power somehow that makes the experience vivid for them and satisfying for me. It's about putting my whole self, as best I can, into the story and its telling. We know that whole-self experience when we hear it and when we read it.

I don't know exactly how to do it, that authenticity. I can't will it to happen. I just know that it happens sometimes when I speak and sometimes when I write. That somehow I penetrate to the heart of the story, or to my heart, which speaks to theirs.

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