Archive for the ‘reciprocity’ Category


Recent events which seem to me to be heightening a national zeitgeist of fear of the “other” have prodded me to republish this post from 2014.  I was back in Alaska earlier this month and ran into an elder from Kake Alaska- the scene of both the personal and folkloric tales that follow.  I’ll write about that encounter in another post, but for now please consider ways in which we can break bread together and build bridges instead of walls.

As we enter this particular Thanksgiving day, with the unfortunate pall of not just smoke but, mistrust, fear, anger and racial tension sparked by the events in Ferguson Missouri, I remember the time that I first experienced myself as a stranger in a strange land, a very obvious young, unexperienced, 20 year old white kid in the Tlingit Native community of Kake Alaska.(1970)

I want to share two stories from that time.  One, my own, which is how I cam to be there, and how I was treated.  And the other, a Tlingit folktale that I heard told many years after I’d left, and then found even many years latter in written form. This story has guided since it ‘found me’  but I have resisted telling it in deference to sensitivities about cultural appropriation.  But my personal connection to this story feels so strong, and now that I have seen numerous retellings in print and on the internet, my feeling is that this story is screaming to be told at a time like this, a time when we simply cannot remain as strangers to each other.
Off on an adventure, I’d landed in Petersburg Alaska in the early spring, totally broke and desperate for a job, any job.  In a small cafe, a Vista volunteer working in Kake, suggested that I take a boat to this island community and try a get a job as a deck hand on a fishing boat since the Halibut season was not far off.  The conversation was overheard by some of the locals who exhorted me mostly as follows…”Don’t do it kid.  Those natives will throw you overboard and you’ll be food for the sand fleas.”  They truly were trying to dissuade me.  I don’t know if it was providence, stubbornness, curiosity, or simply my desperate financial straights, but an hour later I was on my way to Kake.

Here’s how I was greeted.  After being introduced by that Vista volunteer to one of the prominent families in the village, I was offered a place to sleep on one of the village fishing boats and a place at the table to eat with the family every day for several weeks until the fishing season started.  Some inquiries were made and when fishing commenced, I had a job. I was the greenhorn and I mean true greenhorn on a halibut boat where the next youngest member of the crew was 80 years old. No doubt I was somewhat of a curiosity , but the point is that as an outsider, I was welcomed and embraced, and this proved to be just the first of many years of my experience of native hospitality.  Had I listened to the bigots, and yes, that’s what they were,  and not ventured to the village, my life might have proven to have been very different.
Now the folktale.  It’s important to remember that I did not encounter this tale, from this village until years after I left.

The Man Who Entertained the Bears

A man of the Raven clan living had grown very old.  His friends were gone, passed away and he felt sad to think that he was left alone. He began to think about how he might leave that lonely place or even end his own life.  He thought that he might paddle away to another village, but then said to himself, ” I will be a stranger there and if  the people there see that I am alone, they may think that I have run away from my own village,  or been banished for some disgraceful thing.

It then occurred to him to go to the bears and let the bears kill him. The village was at the mouth of a large salmon creek and there found a bear trail and lay down right in the middle of it.

“ Let the bears find me here at eat me,” he decided.

Soon after, as he lay there, he heard the sounds of twigs and bushes breaking and saw a large number of grizzly bears coming toward him.  The largest bear was in the lead,  a huge old Silvertip- the tips of his hairs were white as that old mans hair.  Suddenly the man imagined the sound of his own bones breaking and thought that perhaps being eaten by the bears was not such a good idea.

Very quickly now the bears were close upon him. He jumped up. The  Silvertip stoop so that they were facing each other.  The hair on the man’s next stood up.  The fur on Silvertip’s neck stood up.

“I  am here,” said the man,  summoning his courage,  “to invite you to a feast.” I have come to invite you to a feast tomorrow, but, if you are going to kill me,  I am willing to die. I am alone. I have lost all of friends,  my children, and my wife.”

At this, Silvertip grunted, turned about and led the other bills back up the trail.

“I think they have accepted my invitation,” the man thought.

When he got home he began to prepare for the feast. He cleaned and made his house a welcoming place,  then he told the  other people in the village about his encounter with the bears and invited them all to the feast.

“You have done a very foolish and dangerous thing,” they replied.  The bears are our enemies. We will not come!”

For the feast, the man prepared dishes that the bears would enjoy, salmon,  berries, and more.  The next morning he saw the bears coming from the mouth of the creek. The other villagers saw them too, peeking from their doors but afraid to come out. But he stood still to receive them. brought them into the house and gave them seats, placing Silvertip in the middle of the house and the rest around him.

The feast began with large trays of cranberries preserved in grease.  Then tray after tray of salmon and other foods were passed from bear to bear.  When they they were finished, Silvertip rose on his hind legs and began to address the man  for quite some time. Then he turned and led the other bears out towards the forest.  As each bear left, it licked the paint with which that the man had adorned his arms and chest with.

The next day, the smallest of the  bear came back, but it seemed to the man to be in almost human form and spoke to him in  his own Tlingit language.

“I was once a human being. I was a young baby, lost in the forest.  The bears adopted me, protected me, and taught me their ways. Now I am mostly a bear, but I still remember my childhood language.  Silvertip asked me if you understood what he said to you at the feast yesterday?”

The man replied, “I felt that he was thanking me, but no, I did not understand everything.”

“He was telling you,” the bear man said, “that he is in the same condition as you. He too has lived long and has lost all of his friends. Many are the ways in which we are the same.  He had heard of you before he saw you. He told you to think of him when you are mourning for your lost ones. or when you are lonely.”  And with that the bear man returned to the forest and his companions.

(Here’s a link to the original English version of the story.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/nw/tmt/tmt088.htmI’ve shortened and adapted it slightly but trust that the intent and spirit of the story has been conveyed.  Again, this is offered humbly and with thanks to those who have told and may continue to tell the story in and around Kake.  Please know that my time there was a turning point in my life, a time when I began to see and understand my place in the world in a much broader way,  way that opened up a whole new way of seeing, thinking and relating)

This story was narrated to Swanton by a man named Kasank, who added this commentary to the tale.

“From this we learn,” said Kasank, that when when we give a feast, no matter if a person may be an enemy, it is good to invite him to the meal and become friends just as this man did with the bears.”
This story began working on me as soon as I heard it.  I was early into my storytelling career and discovering that for me, storytelling was not so much about performance as it was about encounter and being together with people in an authentic and convivial way.  It lead me to work with my wife and storytelling partner Liz and a great group of friends to create community events we have come to call F.E.A.S.T!  Families Eating and Storytelling Together.  The intent has always been to bring people together – people of different ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds for a shared meal, and shared stories.

Food and stories are what I’d call the universal solvent of  differences and mistrust.  Break bread with each other, share stories- true stories, stretched stories, hard stories, folktales, jokes, jests, stories of fools stories of wise ones, love stories, reconciliation stories… and we find out, like the man and Silvertip, how beyond the knotty differences, just how much we have in common.

Finally for now, I’d just like to add, that it’s not just about sitting down with an adversary or an enemy.  Families have their daily, and sometimes drawn out stresses, arguments, and grudges.  We can start on Thanksgiving day of course, but any day, any meal can be a time to be together, eat together, and make peace with ourselves and each other.  And that would truly be a grace and a blessing.


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granddaughters reading peterHappy Happy!  My granddaughters are happy! Their grandmother is happy!  Their great-grandmother is happy! I’m happy! Following up on my previous Reading Legacy post- Cartoonist/Ilustrator and great friend Peter Menice (Petermenice.com) ‘translated’ the photo of Maya and Raina reading together.  Here is what he created.  Peter populated the illustration with author Sandra Boynton’s characters from But Not the Hippopotamus- the book the girls are reading in the original photo.  The signed print is my New Years gift to the girls, and another copy a birthday present to Belen, my mother in law.

I’m thinking about how much fun this collaboration has been with Peter and also looking forward to our upcoming first live presentation together… The Toonist and the Teller Together at our local library in Rio Rancho New Mexico.

I recently encountered this wonderful sentiment from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi whose book,  from Aging to Sageing has inspired  me to further my explorations of Legacy.  The Reb says…”The only way to get it together is….together!”

May this new year bring my friends and colleagues a legacy of wonder, discovery and rich collaborations large and small! TTogether!




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Just in time for the really first cold snap of the season, the Fat Wood Fairy left a burlap sack on our porch. One of the reasons I’m known as “One Match” is that whether it’s for the hearth, or on a camping trip, I’ve always got a supply of what  must surely be one of the best natural and surefire kindling in the world-fat wood (also known as lighter wood) Fat wood are hand split pieces of pitch pine stumps, almost dripping with sticky and highly flammable resin.
So I called to thank Sid Byrd, my Lakota friend in South Dakota, for what has become his annual gift to us. Each year, Sid sends fat wood, and we send him the makings of one of his favorite foods-posole- dried corn, and chiles, which can then be seasoned with meat.  Sid’s daughter Navassie, known to us  as The Kick-Ass Cooking Goddess (We miss you Navassie!)then makes Sid his much longed for posole.  Maybe Navassie will be making a pot this weekend since Sid is about to celebrate his 94th birthday with a big party.DSC04084

I have been so fortunate to have counted as friends and mentors, elders who well into their 90s remain vital and engaged with the world.  Every time we speak, Sid reminds us of how when he still lived in NM he, loved to sit around our fireplace and swap stories.  And  does Sid has stories.  In a few weeks, he’ll be traveling, yes traveling to Mankato Minnesota to take part in a memorial for the 38 Lakota braves who were hung in 1862 in the largest mass execution in American history. (Lincoln pardoned 265 but let the  38 executions proceed for what was called an uprising but was in reality a defense of their homeland. ) Sid has an intimate knowledge of this mostly unknown and shameful episode in U.S. history, having been asked a few years ago to translate the letters the unfortunate prisoners wrote home.  And he can tell the story of Wounded Knee as he heard it from those who were actually there. Sid was an apt and eager young listener around the pot bellied stove at trading post at Pine Ridge. Talk about being able to reach across time and appreciate living history!images-1

Just today, I learned about another remarkable 90+ year old elder, Lenora Ucko who is also telling stories, building community and healing others by convening them to tell  their stories through her wonderful efforts at StoriesWork.org.  I sometimes wonder if I’ll still be traveling and telling if I am fortunate enough to reach that venerable age. Towards that end, I made a green kale and protein powder shake yesterday, but  later at the gym where I swim , I met a 90 year old who told me his secret is a shot of Scotch every day.

About 10 years ago when Sid Byrd was still living in Santa Fe ,I nominated him and he was honored as a “Living Treasure.” Now, sitting gratefully snug by my hearth, having kindled the fire with one small sliver of the newly arrived fat wood, I thought about my many treasured elder friends and drifted dreamily into a reverie about a treasure, and a story that has been told around the globe. Known as The Peddlar of Swaffham in England, or told as as a traditional Eastern European Jewish tale, the story goes back as far as the Arabian Nights and although I haven’t read it, appears in the plot of Paul Coelho’s novel,The Alchemist.

Here’s the gist of it.images-2
A poor and humble man, let’s call him Yankel, has a vivid and detailed dream of making a long journey to the  the capital city and finding a treasure buried beneath the foundation of a bridge. Nice dream he thinks, but alas, just a dream.  But after he has the same dream a for second and then a third night he can no longer dismiss what now seems like a call to action. HIs wife prepares humble provisions for his journey and off he goes to search of the treasure.  He’s never been to the capital before, and to his amazement, everything, down to the last detail looks exactly like it appeared in the dream, including the bridge.  Unfortunately, the bridge is guarded day and night.  Yanekl realizes that although he may risk having to share the treasure, or perhaps even lose it entirely, he’ll have to tell the guard about the dream.  When he does, the guard ridicules him.  If I went  traipsing about like a fool, following every dream I have, I’d make my way to the village where you came from, find a man named Yankel, dig under his hearthstone and find a treasure there.”  Ivan doesn’t need to hear any more. He turns on his heels, heads back to his village, digs under the hearth, finds the treasure, then uses his new found wealth to build a house of worship for the community.  The greatest treasure, so the story tells us can be found close to home.

Well, it’s now the season of gifts and giving so lots of treasure and shiny toys for old and young to dream of finding under a tree.  I once interviewed a number of people to find out about the best gift that they ever received.  One young waitress didn’t hesitate for a moment before responding eagerly.  She told me that her father had been in an accident and couldn’t work for several years.  The family fell on hard times and so there was no money for gifts.  Her grandmother who was living in the household at that time told her, that because she was the one who had shown interest and asked questions, that she would take a weekend with just the two of them and tell her granddaughter her life story. That, was the  granddaughter’s best gift ever.

So… before you make that long and arduous journey to the mall or travel through cyberspace to the far off  Land of Amazon…If you looking for priceless treasure, here’s a clue.  Look close to home. Share your stories with the people you love and and ask them to share their stories with you.  Treasure each other!
(If you need any more encouragement for such efforts, click on the Endangered Stories Act page here)
And as always, I’d be delighted if you’d use the comments option to tell a tale about a time you received a treasured gift.)

Now it’s time to put another log on the fire… Just have to decide whether to reach for the kale or the scotch.

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A few days ago, after a visit to Ernest Thompson Seton’s Santa Fe homestead, now in the wonderful hands and hearts of The Academy for the Love of Learning(http://www.aloveoflearning.org/ I found myself browsing through Seton’s “Gospel of the Redman.”  This little story, called The Onion Seller jumped out at me.

In a shady corner of the great market at Mexico City was an old Indian named Pota-lamo. He had twenty strings of onions hanging in front of him.
An American from Chicago came up and said:
“How much for a string of onions?”
“Ten cents,” said Pota-lamo.
“How much for two strings?”
“Twenty cents,” was the reply.
“How much for three strings?”
“Thirty cents,” was the answer.
“Not much reduction in that,” said the American. “Would you take twenty-five cents?”
“No,” said the Indian.
“How much for your whole twenty strings?” said the American.
“I would not sell you my twenty strings,” replied the Indian.
“Why not?” said the American. “Aren’t you here to sell your onions?”
“No,” replied the Indian. “I am here to live my life. I love this market place. I love the crowds and the red serapes. I love the sunlight and the waving palmettos. I love to have Pedro and Luis come by and say: ‘Buenos dias’, and light cigarettes and talk about the babies and the crops. I love to see my friends. That is my life. For that I sit here all day and sell my twenty strings of onions. But if I sell all my onions to the customer, then is my day ended. I have lost my life that I love and that I will not do.”

It brought to mind another story, very much in the same vein, by B. Traven, best known as the author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, In a short story called Assembly Line, a savvy businessman discovers an Indian who makes marvelous baskets and sells them for a pittance.  The businessman returns to New York, finds a buyer willing to take thousands of baskets and returns to share the good news with the humble and seemingly naive craftsman.  Much as in Seton’s anecdote, the basket maker offers no discounts…in fact the greater number of baskets ordered the higher the price will be for each one. With deference but ironic humor, he gives the businessman quite a lesson in economics, explaining how the entire village’s economy will be ruined if he agrees to make and sell thousands. Everyone would be making baskets, no one would be working the fields, the price of food would go up, and the farmers turned assembly line workers would not longer be able to afford the food they used to grow.
But what is more important he continues,  “I’ve got to make these canstitas my own way, and with my song in them and with bits of my soul woven into them.  If I were to make them in great numbers there would no longer be my soul in each or my songs…and this would slowly eat up my heart.  Each has to be another song which I hear in the morning when the sun rises and when the birds begin to chirp and the butterflies come and sit down on my baskets so that I may see a new beauty….”

I woke up this morning, wanting to share these two stories, and at the same time wondering how I might make a connection or segue to current events here in my own realm.  Then a bus pulled up.  Looking across the street from where I was having my afternoon coffee, The Million Acts of Kindness Bus pulled up and there was no way I was going to head home without seeing and hearing what this was all about.

Let me introduce you to Bob Votruba and his canine traveling companion Bogart by way of their web-site. (http://www.onemillionactsofkindness.com/) Bob is an ambassador for peace and kindness.  The tragic Virginia Tech shootings set him on his path. Please, take a moment to read his story.  He’s been on the road and living in the bus for three years, and plans to continue for another seven.  He speaks clearly from his heart and passion about the need for kindness in the world.  He has woven this vision and put it into action and into the fabric of his life. Support his journey, and explore how you can make his journey for kindness your journey. Here is a man who knows something about the value of life…his and others.

Well, that’s how it works.  You start thinking about how you spend or sell your life, and out of the blue, you get a kick in the butt or a pat on the back as the case may be. You hear a story, you meet a real hero, and if you’re lucky, a butterfly might even flutter by and remind you of your own beauty and potential to make a difference!

(I relish comments… perhaps someone inspired you today?

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There are times that I turn to certain stories almost as talismans that contain much needed guidance, and that help me keep my bearing.  This is one of those times and so I recently reread Leon Tolstoy’s short story- The Three Questions.  It concerns a King who turns to a hermit for answers to three pressing questions, questions that the King believes will help him know just what to do in every situation.

Who are the most important people?
What is the right thing to do?
When is the right time to act?

Here’s a link to a translation.  http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2736/
There is also a wonderful adaptation by children’s author and illustrator Jon Muth. http://tinyurl.com/6lw64fw

I was a very curious child, full of my own questions.  Luckily I had a father who was a scientist, and I was sure that he had answers for all I wanted and needed to know.  Here’s how he handled his eager young son.

“ Dad, why is the sky blue?”

“Hmnn…I’m not really sure about that.”

“Dad, where does the firefly’s light come from?

“I wonder about that myself.”

“Dad, what happens to us after we die?”

“After we die?  It’s a mystery. I wish I could tell you. But keep asking questions son, it’s the only way you’re going to learn anything!  Now go study.”

Years later, that exchange became a kind of running joke between us.  I eventually found an opportunity to thank him for his teaching story with this story from the Hasidic tradition.

A Yeshiva student so consumed with the desire for knowledge, that his health began to suffer. His studies left no time for friends, for exercise, and finally no time to even bother eating. He burned the the candles and both ends and if there had been a third end he would have burned that one too. He burned not only with a…. fever, but a physical one as well It came to the point where his parents feared for his  very life. Desperate, his parents sent him off to the  capital city and to a wonder working rabbi.  The Rabbi met the boy with a gentle gaze.

“Tell me my son, what brings you here and how can I help”
Encouraged, the young man explained his earnest quest for knowledge and truth, and within a few minutes had asked a number of penetrating and insightful questions about difficult Torah passages.  The rabbi listened intently and then without warning he smacked the earnest seeker across the back of the head.   The boy was naturally  shocked and bewildered.

“Rabbi, Rabbi, why did you strike me?

“ My son,” the Rabbi replies, “ You have such marvelous questions.  Why would you want to ruin them with answers?”

Now I must live up to the title of the blog post.  Only six questions have been asked, and so I’ll conclude with three more questions that my father often returned to. Questions posed by Rabbi Hillel around 110 BC and as relevant today as they were then.

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
“If I am only for myself, what am ‘I’?
“If not now, then when?”

Now, go study!  And keep asking questions.  It’s the only way you are going to learn anything!

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I’m in San Fransisco to take part in the Poetics of Aging Conference (poeticsofaging.org) I thought this would be a good time to say a little about the Endangered Stories Act and to let folks know about a new direction/initiative I’ve taken in my “storied life.  Hope you’ll take the time to check out www.legacystorycoach.com

I created The Endangered Stories Act after hearing again and again the all too familiar lament,“ Grandpa  used to tell such wonderful stories.  I wish I’d paid more attention or recorded them.  Now he’s gone and the stories are gone.”  Sound familiar?

My Dakota friend Sid Byrd regaling 3rd grade students with stories about his time at Indian boarding schools and impressng on them the importance of maintaining their native language. At 92 Sid is still traveling, lecturing and storytelling.

The stories of our families and friends are priceless and their loss,  just like the loss of habitat or the disappearance of an endangered species, erodes the wealth of our living heritage.

Some time ago, I asked people, family, friends and strangers, t to share a story about a special gift that they had either given or received.  One young woman, a waitress in a local coffee shop, offered this…

“My family was really going through a really hard time.  My father had been in a terrible accident and hadn’t worked for more than two years.  Christmas was getting near and I could tell that something was bothering my grandmother.  She told me that she was really sad that she didn’t have any money to buy me a gift.  But a few days later she really perked up.  She did have a gift for me after all.  She asked me  if I would like to spend three days over the holidays with her so that she could tell me her life story.  I did, and learned so much about her that I didn’t know, some things that really surprised me.  She said  that she was telling me things that she hadn’t thought of or spoken of in many years.  And she told me that she had picked me to tell these stories to, because I seemed to be the one among her grandchildren who had asked her questions and shown the most interest in knowing about her life.  It was the very best gift I have ever received.”

You can begin by asking a friend, a parent, a child, or even a stranger, to tell you something about themselves or their family that you have never heard before.  And if you are an elder, just like the waitress’s grandmother, please offer your stories as a gift.  A third grade class took on as an assignment to learn something you never knew about a parent or grandparent, and returned to class bursting with enthusiasm with their new discoveries.  A library in New Mexico sponsored an evening of family storytelling and created a beautiful Endangered Stories talking stick to commemorate the event.   The possibilities are endless.  What is guaranteed is that the activity of asking, listening and telling, deepens understanding, and strengthens relationships.

The Endangered Stories Act is an invitation to a story, the seed of an idea. In keeping with its challenge that people commit to becoming the ‘Caretaker’ of a Story, it is my intention to act as the caretaker for the ‘story’ of the Endangered Stories Act.  I encourage you to make and distribute copies of the ESA and to implement it  in your own way, at family gatherings.in schools, libraries, churches…  Behind all this is my conviction that as we are more and more known to each other through the stories we tell, we can create more possibilities for understanding and community in this world. I hope to hear from you and learn how you put the ESA in action!

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There are times when one suddenly sees or understands an old familiar tale in a new light.  Yesterday was one of those  days.

My old friend, Storyteller Orunumamu says that a feather is a wish or a message from a bird. I haven’t  thought of Orunamamu in a long time, nor had I thought of the Japanese folk tale Tsru no On-gaeShi, The Crane Wife. Perhaps cranes came flying into my mind because one of the first things I heard when I woke up was the cacophony of hundreds of geese circling the river and thought first the geese come, and soon the cranes will arrive on their southward migration.

I spent much of the  rest of the day revisiting resources and perspectives I’ve been compiling on the use of story and narrative in organizational and business settings.  Read one hundred current articles, blog posts, and assorted tweets on storytelling in business and it is soon becomes apparent that fire has been rediscovered; we are all storytellers and that our personal and business fortunes depend on our ability to tell the right stories  to the right people, for the right purpose, at the right time.  Storyteller to the bone that I am, I have to agree.

By evening, I was bushed, but managed to give myself some sage advice. Get ‘off the clock,’ ditch all agendas and let my mind wander where it will.  I accepted an invitation to spend an hour in the underground sanctuary of a friend’s kiva, lit some candles picked up a drum and began a rhythmic beat.  Some time later, the feather of the Crane Wife story came drifting into my mind.

A poor sail maker pulls an arrow from a wounded crane.  Later that day he returns home to find a beautiful young woman tending his house.  She has with her  a small bag of rice, that strangely is always full, providing sustenance for the marriage that follows. Life is good with a full belly and a loving wife, but the sail maker’s needs steadily increase. His wife retreats behind a screen and sets to work weaving a marvelous sail with instructions that her husband must never look behind the screen while she is working nor must he ever ask her to make another.  The sail, unequaled in it’s beauty and strength  fetches a great price which sustains the couple for a spell. But the first promise is broken and the man asks for just one more sail. but then another, and another and ‘just one more.’ Each time, his wife emerges from behind the screen looking more and more exhausted  And of course, as we naturally anticipate with this and similar stories, eventually the husband takes a peep behind the screen. He sees his wife the in her true form – a crane, pulling out her feathers to weave into the fabric of the sail.  Having been revealed,  she flies off, leaving a half finished cloth as a reminder of their time together.

I’ve always heard this story as a  rather simple tale about the consequences of wanting too much.  But perhaps because I’d spent the day as I had, it occurred to me that yes, stories serve us and serve us well.  But ask too much of them, put them to work and keep them working without understanding their true nature, strip them of mystery, prescribe them as quick boosts for performance or remedies for all that ails the bottom line, and our beautiful partner will fly off on wounded wings. Perhaps it’s not quite as easy as take two parables and a a dose of the Hero’s Journey and call me in the morning.  Ah, The Crane Wife–  a cautionary tale for the Business of Storytelling in Business!

I set the drum down, thankful for the gift of story,  blew out the candles, and walked home under the canopy of a crisp New Mexico night sky.
This morning, a mockingbird (Sagebrush Thrasher) lands on my back fence and repeats a loud and insistent refrain. Now just what was that bird trying to tell me?  Ah, but that’s another story, the story of Ivan,Vasilly and the Language of the Birds.

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