Here is an idea for a way to share the gift of story this season. It works well in the cozy circle of family that many of us won’t have in person this year. But it also works beautifully in a Zoom gathering!
“Story Seeds” is a game anyone can play that makes spontaneous storytellers of us all. I often play it in my workshops where there are several people, but you could play it with just two people if you don’t have a whole group nearby.
Here is how it works: One person starts by giving a word to the person on the left. It has to be a concrete noun like bird or hell or window—not abstract like love or beauty. The person who has been given the word then recounts a memory or an image that the word stimulates. Responses can range from hilarious to touching. Once that person has told as short vignette about a "story seed" the word evoked, they pass another random word on to the next person, and so on until everyone has told their story seed. This exercise is juicy. Hang on for the ride.
To illustrate, one time someone gave me “poison ivy.” Here’s what popped into my mind: A few years ago, my husband and I rented a cabin at a cozy little resort. Apparently, the full moon that weekend made us giddy and we decided to make love on a blanket by a secluded lake across the road. In the shadows we spread a blanket over what we thought was grass. A few days later Bill’s knees began to itch. You can imagine where that story goes . . . I get the giggles even now.
The next person got the word "curve." A moment’s thought brought her to a curve life had thrown her when her daughter almost died from drugs. We felt her pain as she shared her story. And she, in turn, passed on a word to the next person.
The key to “Story Seeds” is Do Not Censor! Do not sit there and think about the right thing to say. Do not try to look good. Let the story that finds you come forward in its raw humanity. The real stuff is the good stuff. The real stuff is the gift.
Send me your stories about playing Story Seeds with your family, friends or co-workers.
The above is an excerpt from my book (a great gift, by the way):
We are all storytellers. Our lives are rich with stories. This book tells stories from daily life that remind us of what it is to be human. After each story provocative questions help you find, tell and learn from your own stories.