Thomas Doty – Storyteller
Updated 6/5/2020 | Refresh
Where I'm At, What I'm Up To
I am home in southern Oregon, writing and rehearsing new stories, and keeping my storytelling skills honed for the time when I am once again able to share native stories in person.
I've also been creating illustrated, digital editions of my Doty & Coyote Stories. There are currently 25 available, with more to come. And they're free! I have also written Educational Tools for Teachers & Parents for three of the stories. These are also free and handy to have on hand during these home-school, distance-learning times. Have a look....
Teaching Stories – Texts & Resources
Meanwhile, be safe and stay healthy. And whenever you can, toss a lifeline to those who need your help. As Grandma Aggie has told me and others so many times, "We are all in this leaky canoe together!"
In the Spirit of Sharing Stories,
From My Journal
When asked what my story means, I twist my face into a Coyote smirk and say, "I can only explain my story with the words I have already used." This drives logical thinkers nuts!
* * * * *
In Jaime de Angulo's Indian Tales, Oriole Girl understands this. She mocks Fox Boy....
"You study too much; it will hurt your back. Why do you ask all those questions from the grown-ups? They don't know the answers. You only embarrass them."
"But I want to know the truth."
"Because I want to know the way it really happened."
"IT HAPPENED THE WAY they tell it!"
"But they tell it differently!"
"Then it is because it happened differently."
Fox looked at Oriole sideways.
* * * * *
On my first adventure with Coyote, standing on the summit of Mount McLoughlin, I received this curious observation from my trickster friend....
"So what's that bundle of notebooks you've got in your satchel? You never seem to be without them."
"These are my scribblings, my collected works, everything from scratches of ideas to poems and stories -- storyteller stuff...."
"It seems quite a lot of work to haul that stuff up here to the top of the world. Let me give you a piece of advice. We mythic creatures carry stories around in our heads. If you could learn to do that, you would find the burden weighs far less and you'll avoid back problems in your old age."
* * * * *
That nailed it. Here was something I was struggling with. The writer in me loved the page and I treasured my notebooks and the hand-picked books in my library. The storyteller in me disliked the permanence of ink on paper. For a while I compromised and scribbled stories only in pencil. That didn't help much.
Then I discovered the internet. Here was a way to "publish" my writing as if it were being told in that moment. Then next day I could upload a revised version that reflected that day's telling. And on and on in my personal semi-oral tradition. This self-created slice of reality has made me happy for quite a spell. It still does.
And each story's meaning? What it means to me is not what it means to you. And with each telling, especially as I grow older, the meaning changes. Every time! Oriole Girl was right. We grown-ups don't know the answers. And those of us who feel inspired to explain a well-told story should just keep quiet. Or better yet, make up a new story!
I still like my notebooks and books, and I like telling stories. When I stopped asking foolish questions and just flowed with the words, the struggle to find the meaning went away. The less I was in my head, the richer the story became. My experience with each story was profound.
Joseph Campbell once remarked that it wasn't the meaning of life that people were searching for, but rather an experience of being alive. And so the stories go on and on with words that love to rearrange themselves each time they get scribbled, each time they are spoken out loud. These days, when I walk out of my library and head into the hills, I leave my satchel at home.
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