The Storyteller Knows Me

Two recurrent themes have jumped out at me as I participate in the Reinvention summit.   Storytelling is a tool for relationship, and that everyone has a story to tell.  I thought I’d pass on this story for those who may not have heard it.  It speaks to both of these themes. It’s an anecdote, well known, and often told in traditional storytelling circles, that has almost taken on the proportions of a modern parable.  I first heard it told by Metis storyteller Ron Evans.

A Peace Corps volunteer or perhaps it was an anthropologist in Africa was in a village when satellite T.V made it’s debut there.  For a period of time, normal village life came to a halt as people watched (slack jawed I imagine) Then slowly, things began to return to some semblance of normality. When asked why people were not watching as much t.v. a villager replied, “We have our storyteller.”  “ I understand said the volunteer, “but your storyteller knows a hundred stories- the television knows thousands of stories.”  With a gleam in his eye, the man quickly responded.  “That is true, but the storyteller knows me!”

I was tempted to continue on with commentary, but perhaps this story is best left to speak for itself to the diverse community of storytellers and story practitioners assembled for the Reinvention Summit. I’ll say just this.  If we are known by the stories we tell, and the stories we listen to, tell authentic stories for authentic relationships.  Listen deeply to know and be known.

(This story really resonated for me, because, back in the day, I happened to be in a remote village on the Yukon River the day satellite t.v arrived there.  Amazingly,  the first program broadcast was historical documentary footage of a homestead on the Kenai Peninsula where I had been the caretaker the previous winter.  How’s that for serendipity and synchronicity!)

Finally, I can already sense that it is the new relationships that I am forging with fellow travelers on this storytelling and reinvention trail that will be the biggest, ‘takeaway’ from the Summit.



  1. It recently occurred to me that some of the lure of the new electronic media is that, with enough searching, a person CAN find a channel which knows him or her, or at least mirrors their life. This could be a tremendously entrancing thing, even though it lacks the human interaction of a live storyteller. I think that this is the appeal of such things as YouTube and Facebook, in that you can customize things so that you are looking into a mirror of yourself, and only view the things you like best.
    I remember the first time I encountered an internet radio station that I really liked. I didn’t listen to any other form of music for weeks, until I noticed that was what I was doing…

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