Thanks to everyone who tuned into our Zoom show Thursday. We heard some sweet stories and got to see some great new people who just discovered us. I knew it was going to be a fun night when I saw that Connie and her horse Saruq logged in from Idaho. Once again, she rode down the holler to the neighbor’s house to use their WiFi and catch the show. Even better was that we got to finally meet her neighbors. 

Colleen started us off with a story about how her car dying on I-5 led her to finally selling that car and using only the bus for transportation. I love it when someone turns one of my beliefs upside down. Even though riding the bus takes more time and planning than hopping in your car, Colleen has somehow managed to re-engineer her life to get more done than she ever did before. She started doing more art, telling more stories, and finished a book she’d been working on for 20 years. Maybe we don’t actually need to do all the things we think we need to do. Is it possible that by combining the little trips and completely putting off others that we can find more time to focus on the stuff that really feeds us? It’s a shame that Nathan the Storytelling Bus Driver wasn’t with us Thursday. I bet he would have loved this story.

Cavan, one of our storytellers who has been with us for many years, told his last story for FGS. He’s moving to Michigan this summer. I remember when Cavan first started coming to the show somewhere around 2012 or 2013. At the time, we were both telling stories about recovering from personal tragedies. I was always happy when I saw him throw his name in Mr. Coffee because it meant I was going to find out how he was doing that month. His recovery seemed to be on the same timeline as my own and I often compared each of our little baby steps back to sanity through our stories. Today, years later, we’re both doing well. This show has been around for ten years and I’ve seen many lives change during that time. I don’t know of any other place where I get to see people’s lives unfold over the course of time like I do with FGS. 

Yael, one of our first-timers told a story that had me smiling all the way through. It was about how she learned to speak English and ended up falling in love with all the grammar, idioms, and general wackiness that our language contains. I always bristle when I hear people imply that English is a lesser language because it doesn’t have a word for certain foreign expressions. Sure, German has schadenfreude but do they have a phrase for “stick that in your pipe and smoke it”? Or a word for the subtle dismissiveness of, “Yeah, that’ll be the day.” I think English is just as complex and interesting as any other language. Can you imagine trying to describe to a Belgian what calling someone a dipstick means? I could probably write an entire essay on the history and emotional context of calling someone a long metal rod used to check the oil level of a ‘67 Ford Fairlane. Anyway, I loved hearing Yael talk about the joys of Roget’s Thesaurus. 

Chris told the story of how sumo wrestling may have inadvertently saved her life. I can’t explain all the ins and outs of it here, but I will say that I am now watching way more sumo on YouTube than I was a week ago. One of my favorite things about FGS is hearing how the strangest, most inconsequential things, can lead us to places we never knew we wanted to be.

Behnaz, one of our newest tellers, showed us how learning to put the tragedies of this year into a story has helped her better deal with them. She’s new to storytelling but she already sees the power it gives us. When we take memories and experiences out of our hearts and put them into stories they no longer control us. Turning those moments into stories forces us to come up with an ending. When we decide on the ending, we also decide on the meaning. Storytelling is about making choices. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we actually have choices.

Harjas, in his second story with us, reminded me that sometimes it feels like we all have the same parents, or at least the same mother. He and I grew up on opposite ends of the earth but his story about the pressure of getting good grades and making it into a prestigious college felt very familiar to me. I love that once a month I get reminded of how easy it can be to connect with each other if we just open up about our lives a bit. I know that’s hard to do out there in regular life, but the more we do it with each other on the third Thursday of each month, the easier it gets everywhere else.

Zoe, one of our tellers from Olympia, shared a story about reaching middle age and not having children. She has had, however, a number of dogs and they’ve been the grateful recipients of all the love and nurturing she has to give. Until I heard Zoe’s story, I never really understood why some people call their pets fur babies. Now I think I have a better understanding of it. As a guy, I’m not always conscious of the pressure on women to have children. I can see how hard it might be to have to explain to people that not having children doesn’t mean you’re not loving or nurturing. It just means that it’s not the right choice for you. Luckily, there are lots of people and creatures in the world who need love and attention. I’m glad Zoe has found some good creatures to take care of 🙂

Bill C was a first-time teller with FGS who tuned in from California. He had a story prepared for last month’s show when the theme was drowning and somehow his name didn’t make it into Mr. Coffee. I felt horrible that he had gotten his story together and I had somehow forgotten to put his name on the list. I had to write a very uncomfortable email to him apologizing and guaranteeing him a spot on this month’s show. He was very gracious about it and I was excited to hear his story on Thursday. I think we can all agree that it was well worth the wait. Bill told the best great white shark story we’ve ever had at FGS. Or maybe it was the best mistaken-for-a-seal story we’ve ever had. I’m not saying abalone diving in shark-filled waters is the safest way to get a story but if you do end up doing that, you’ll probably come back with a great one.

Bill Bernat was our final teller and it’s always a joy to watch him perform. He’s one of Seattle’s best tellers and we’re lucky he stops by as often as he does. He runs a free weekly online workshop that I recommend to everyone: https://www.meetup.com/Stay-Awesome-Storytelling-Virtual-Workshop/

We also have our own monthly workshop which is really helpful to anyone wanting feedback on a story: https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/

Our next show is August 20 at 7pm. The theme is, “things you swore would never happen right up until they did.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as possible.

See you soon 🙂

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com