The goal of the storyteller is to tap into the truth of the emotions inherent in the story that is being told. How do you find the truth? Through the telling of the story, you learn how to reveal it. Emotions are the key to connecting your audience to your vision. Learning how to mine your own emotions and extract them from your life experience takes tremendous courage, wisdom and strength but it will add a layer to your story that reveals how you feel, connects you to your audience and transforms a tale into a truth.
I recently watched The Tillman Story, a film that explores the true story behind the death of soldier and former professional football star, Pat Tillman. To say it was incredibly emotional would be putting it lightly. The film revolves around a family's journey, led by Pat's mother, to reveal the truth about their beloved son versus having him catapulted into sainthood by Army recruiters in order to enlist more soldiers into war. Initially, you might look at this concept and wonder why a family is striving so hard to reveal that their son didn't die in the heroic circumstance that was touted? Through their journey, you connect with the family, their anger, their sadness and rage over the idea that the government was not only lying to them but was also using their boy as a poster child to get more people to join the war. The family just wanted the real truth of who Pat was to surface. There was one very telling moment when one of Pat's brothers spoke at his Memorial service and said that Pat was dead. He didn't believe he was in heaven because Pat was not a religious man. He was just dead. They showed several clips that helped to paint a picture. As the real truth was being told, the picture of a hero was still painted, however it was a humanized version of a man who stood up for a cause and made a choice to leave a multi-million dollar football career in the NFL in order to stand up for something greater. It is a story of depth and one man's search for purpose and greater meaning by making a critical life choice; it is also about the family who continues to love him and who wants him remembered for the man he was, not for who others want him to be.
I so admired the strength and conviction behind the telling of this tragic but inspiring story. In watching the film, the message resonated with me. How can we all contribute in a way that adds meaning and purpose to our lives? Why do we choose to put people on a pedestal versus understanding the reality of what was? This type of story makes you want to be a better person. This is the gift of story.
How does the writer elevate the emotion in their story? This is something I always work on with writers. The reason I do this is because the goal of the storyteller is to make the audience feel their story. In order to feel, there has to be a truth that is emerging and coming through.
In the second Edition of Stealing Fire From The Gods, James Bonnet affirms, "The author of great myths and legends is inside you." I love this concept. Bonnet goes on to write,
Metaphor is the symbolic language that expresses the wisdom hidden in the creative unconscious self. The hidden wisdom exists as raw energy and in order to be communicated to consciousness, it has to be translated into visual images -- i.e. the characters, places, actions and objects, etc. that you actually encounter in great story.
In The Tillman Story, I understood the family's drive to seek the truth behind the death of their son no matter what was revealed in the process. I admired their conviction. The idea of the story behind the story is where we find the truth. We often put things, people and places in a higher regard to appease ourselves versus understanding what was real.
I'd like to leave you with one last quote from Stealing Fire From The Gods, which really sums up the idea that it all lies within. Bonnet writes, "Bill Moyers asked Joseph Campbell, 'What is Heaven?' And Joseph Campbell answered, 'Heaven is a symbolic place. Heaven is no place. These are planes of consciousness or fields of experience potential in the human spirit."