Everytime I go to a conference, storytelling is a forum people are attracted to. It’s a human condition. Our brains shut off if you feed me too much theory, but if you tell me a story? I’m all ears.
Both in our private lives & in business, storytelling is a powerful tool. We know this.
When I had one of my first Cultural Studies courses, which focused on presenting Anglo-American culture to German students, I decided to try to give them a taste of my America by talking about my love for the Chicago Cubs.
Few Europeans can get into this weird antiquated game that such a small segment of society understands, or even wants to. How to present it to them, when they have little or no context?
My approach was to tell them about my relationship with my nana, who instilled her values in me while we were watching our nightly Cubs game.
The students, who neither cared about the rules or the history of this curious game, could find a connection with the relationship with my grandmother.
We all have grandparents, no matter how good or bad our relationship with them is. In many cases, our parents’ parents are the easier, more gentle family member compared to our own mothers or fathers.
Not always, but I think you get my point.
These students of mine were kids, or young adults, and they knew next to nothing about the rules of baseball, even after my brilliant presentation.
It was certainly to be expected. I’d not even bothered getting into the weeds of explaining something like a sacrifice fly or a suicide squeeze. It wasn’t as useful as talking about a relationship.
My nana was isolated out on her ranch, but she still had her Cubbies. They’d entertain her nearly nightly through the summer & early autumn. When they lose their last game, there’s always next year.
These are even baseball sayings that make me nostalgic for those times with my family, but particularly with my nana. Sometimes you lose, but how do you deal with it?
You get up off the grass, with stains on your uniform, shake off the dirt, and tell yourself there’s always tomorrow.
When we were at my nana’s memorial, my niece Amelia and I watched a game in the hotel room. It wasn’t lost on me the parallels.
Now, when I’m here in Germany, I call my brother Michael and ask what his family’s up to. He tells me the family’s watching a playoff game.
My nana’s love of baseball has been passed on to my brother’s kids. It’s cultural. No matter how many people I hear tell me baseball is so slow and boring, I know better.
That’s how storytelling works, though. You needn’t know the particulars like the rules to get the point of the story.
My family carries on its traditions by how we spend our time together. Anyone can relate to that.