October 23 , I wrote this a few days before the recent events in Gaza and Israel. Reading it now in the shadow of these events adds another note...
This summer I happened to walk into a tiny Ice cream place I have never been to before. There was such a palpable healthy, happy vibe and good mood in the place from the first moment I walked in. The two young workers who served at the counter were very friendly and clearly happy to work there, excitedly describing the different flavours and proud of their ice cream almost insisting I sample each flavour, before I choose which ones I want in my cone. It was hard to choose...The ice cream was delicious beyond words. I asked them if they were the owners but they said they were 'students on summer holiday working here for our University fees'. As I sat there, a man walked in through the back door. He greeted the employees with care, humility and warmth. He didn’t see me from where he stood, but I guessed he was the owner (though he did not behave like a 'boss'). I felt an urge to walk to him and compliment him for the fantastic ice cream and on the vibe of the place and the happy workers. He indeed was the owner. I asked him about how and what led him to become the creator of such amazing Ice cream and he spoke with warmth and humility about his own love for ice cream and the joy and satisfaction he gets from sharing this passion with others.
There was something about this gentle happy man who was following his calling to spread sweetness that really touched me.
I thanked him and left.
As I drove away from the place, listening to the news on the radio, I found myself contemplating the many motivations we people have when choosing a profession.
What is the story of all the weapon dealers, gun makers, and arms traders? What pain is moving in the depths of the soul of those who seek positions of power over people?
One of my favourite prophets, Bob Dylan (May he stay forever young), sings: “You have to serve somebody! Well, It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you have to serve somebody’
Bob was right. You can choose to devote your life to serve someone a sweet refreshing ice cream or to destroy life with a remote controlled smart bomb. It is in our hands...
You can also choose to serve this world as a storyteller. Not telling others what they should or should not be doing but telling stories to support creating the optimal condition so that we learn to choose to respond to current and future challenges in a more mature way, with wisdom, compassion, generosity, sobriety and out of deep listening and reverence to all life forms, human and non human.
I invite you to join us on the three months ‘Storytelling Beyond Words’ storytelling training, starting in February 2024 at Emerson College to nurture this visceral form of response ability in yourself and for others, and to develop and fine tune your own unique flavour.
We wholeheartedly welcome to the School of Storytelling also those who do not like Ice cream and even former arms traders ( if you lay down your sword and shield).