Words That Change

Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

What Perceval and Magog have to do with responsibility

In Uncategorized on 4 October, 2013 at 21:35

I suppose that is what responsibility is, living up to what you have acquired or experienced. As a storyteller I’ve become burdened at times with having known and observed things relentlessly. It becomes an all-absorbing passion seeing structure, noting performances. There becomes a permanent book-keeper noting and charting, seeing how form becomes, how things are created, how structure can imprison and empower. How freedom comes with letting all of that go, a sublime unconsciousness which is somehow all-knowing. It takes over and the story becomes part of everyone. Read the rest of this entry »

“It is what it is”

In diary on 8 June, 2012 at 11:37

… but is it?


I’ve seen this phrase – “it is what it is” – with increasing frequency. First on The Wire TV show, cops and gangsters signed acceptance of grim situations with saintly consent. Most recently on The Voice – a music show that selects outstanding singers (I became unapologetically addicted, at moments it was beautiful) – a semi-finalist Cassius consented similarly to his being voted off by the viewers. ‘It is what it is’ encapsulated his disappointment and threw it into the bushes. He was free and still open to possibility. It could not trouble him after that.

A friend used the same phrase twice in a recent conversation in a manner I found unconvincing. The saint-like balm can also be a concealer of wounds. This was the ending of ten-year relationship, so the friend has deeper reasons to grieve than Cassius and it is perhaps right that he should do so.

I’ve heard a story that was told by Osho, a wonderful teacher of the last century, of a king frightened for the loss of his kingdom. He asked for a phrase that would help him in his hour of dying need. One of his wise men suggested a phrase and this was written on a piece of paper and fastened underneath a diamond that was set in a ring and placed on the king’s finger.

Sure enough 15 days later, the king was invaded by a neighbouring country and defeated. Fleeing the enemy he turned to his ring, unfastened the diamond and found the note which read –

This too shall pass

He instantly relaxed found a ditch to hide in and the enemy lost track of him. He raised an army and won his kingdom back. Riding back into his capital in celebration he was filled with pride at what he had achieved, what he had managed to pull off. As this pride was rising he spotted the old man in the crowd, the one who had written the phrase for him. He looked down at his ring and remembered the phrase –

This too shall pass

He instantly relaxed. The pride dissipated and he was able to rule his kingdom quietly and humbly knowing it was precious because it too would fade away, as futile as the breeze and just as powerful.

‘This too shall pass’ is a balm that ‘It is what it is’ points to, as long as the latter clarifies and does not cover situations of extreme discomfort.

The power of storytelling to do business

In Uncategorized on 10 November, 2011 at 23:18

Storytelling has the power to tell us about who we are, show us what we value and communicate complexity in simple and elegant ways. The opportunity for businesses to use storytelling to communicate their own services better, and to be more in tune with their clients is huge.

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Storytelling Festival

In Uncategorized on 3 November, 2011 at 12:02

The Storytelling Festival is on in Amsterdam this weekend and I am going to eat it up like an angry hoover in gravy. Or maybe a gentle swallow in dew. Depends on the stories I suppose. In any case they’re mostly happening at the NDSM.

Here’s my picks:

20.45 Theresa Amoon – Through the Golden Door
20.00 Ben Hagerty – Gilgamesh
If you’re coming let me know below!

The art of telling stories

In Uncategorized on 12 September, 2011 at 11:23

Photograph of Mezrab taken by Morten Arstad - arstad.nl


The people own the story. That was Friday’s lesson. As a teller you are a channel to allow an idea or movement rest in a number of eyes, ears and laps.

The story went brilliantly well. You can’t ask for more than a hundred or so listening pairs of ears when sharing something precious. Storytelling is such an alive art form. It allows for space and reflection and intimacy in a way that a cinema, visual art (ok, sometimes), or even theatre cannot. And it’s hardly prepared. It is just you, the teller, and the listeners moving the same way for 2-15 minutes.

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Sea shanties

In Uncategorized on 9 September, 2011 at 15:24

I will be telling the Sailor and the Flower at the Mezrab’s storytelling tonight. It really is a gem of an evening and will be fascinating to see how it turns out live.

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The Sailor and the Flower

In Uncategorized on 28 August, 2011 at 00:00




This story was originally written in January and posted but then a good friend painted this beautiful painting to go along with it. So here it is again, meaning fortified and intact.




There was a man. There used not always to be men, but this was at a time when it could be said that there was a man.

A sailor who, when his ship came to shore, left the town, the crowds, the market place. The hoardes of salesmen and grey windows where behind spinsters thrived sewing and curing ham, sending sons off to war and daughters to be whores {click below to continue}

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Clickety-click Diary #66 – Storytelling

In Uncategorized on 21 August, 2010 at 20:12

Waking up this morning, I found out it was the afternoon. Leaping out of bed with all the joy of a weekend in front of me, I quickly ran into the hazy wall of an unexpected hangover.

It was there lurking while I was in bed, chasing away the morning with turns and eye-cheating -lids – a blissful Saturday morning with nothing much to do.

This is a change- dear reader. I have spent Saturday mornings cowering in terror at the abyss of empty opportunity in front of me, but not this. I was doing nothing, and happy. I believe this is my favoured state.

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