Earlier last year, confronted by the news, I regularly struggled with the temptation to go hide under the bed covers. Sometimes I confess I gave in. As I write, the world watches in horror as walls of flame engulf vast tracts of Australia, while our government mismanages the crisis and continues to promote coal. With so many complex environmental and social crises looming nationally and globally at once, it can feel pretty easy to succumb to feelings of despair and helplessness and then feel guilty for not being hard at work fixing things!
My approach to reclaiming a positive state of mind was to listen to something uplifting each day and looking after my wellbeing. Part of this strategy was to gather stories that spoke to me in these challenging times. Wise, rich stories are my safety net to keep me steady. They calm me, soothe me, reweave me. It is important to allow ourselves to feel, express and release our feelings of grief and fear. But when the news is especially confronting, I do occasionally fall through that net, down into gloominess again. Then I reach for stories as my safety rope to pull myself up and out again.
Wise stories can be a road map for life if you know how to read them.
While stories can’t magically undo the multiple ‘wicked’ problems we are facing, stories can help us find courage, resilience, determination and develop new ethics. This is true both for individuals and communities. Of course, entertaining stories can also offer us some emotional respite from fear and worry. Like all forms of art, stories can be transformational, but they can also be fun and entertaining.
Just as we humans need good quality food, good sleep, exercise and time in nature to recharge, we need heartening, good quality stories. Not to put on rose-coloured glasses and delude ourselves, but as an antidote to the stories of lack and fear we are being bombarded with daily. Stories can help us weather these challenging times with compassion, dedication, resolve, persistence, collaboration, tenderness, wisdom, self-care, love and even joy.
To move towards lasting, positive social transformation, we need more beautiful stories of what IS possible.
Our No is only as strong as our Yes is compelling. *
‘Stories for a More Beautiful World’ Online Workshop**
I regularly lead a four-week online storytelling course, at various times to suit people in different time zones. In ‘Stories for a More Beautiful World’, I focus on the change-making potential of stories, particularly oral storytelling. Please join me as we explore the possibilities.
Book or find more information here: https://storytree.com.au/workshops/
* Can’t find out who said that- but I love it!
** Inspired by Charles Eisenstein who wrote the book “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible”.