by Chris Pavadore
If someone had told me that I would be involved in storytelling when I grew up, I would likely have laughed in their face. Then again, I suppose the best thing about life is that you never truly know what will come next.
I have never been a person that writes stories nevermind telling them aloud to various groups of people. Two years ago, I was approached by APU Professor David Onofrychuk, who decribed a local storytelling organization called Arctic Entries, and asked if I could contribute a story to their events. At the time, I hadn’t known it existed and I believe I may have even chuckled in his face. After a few more encounters with him regarding Artic Entries, I figured that maybe I should think about it and consider working with this curious organization.
It wasn’t long after my loving wife, Arika, kindly reminded me of my Senior Project that I experienced an “AHA!” moment: I need to tell my story about Melissa. Melissa is not a lost love or a family member. Melissa is a sub-adult white shark that tried to see life from my perspective while cage-diving in South Africa. Fast-forward a few months and there I was on the Discovery Theater stage in downtown Anchorage telling a large community about Melissa the Shark in the YOLO-themed Arctic Entries:
In the audience at Arctic Entries are people that represent another organization, Story Works Alaska, which is the little cousin to Arcitc Entries. Story Works has a group of people dedicated to help youth develop, refine, and deliver stories for their peers as part of their curriculum in school. It was not long after my performance that I was contacted by Story Works with interest in bridging the gap between storytelling and story coaching. I hadn’t known at the time of rehearsal and performance that I was beginning a new endeavor that I have since enthusiastically embraced.
Storytelling for me was about telling some awesome story about this great experience I had while studying animal behavior. But storytelling for others is about living a journey through words, through emotion, and imagery. When the teller feels excitement, so too does the audience. And when the teller shows fear, anxiety, and pain, the eyes of the audience respond like a mirror.
A spoken story may not always include charasmatic megafauna as my shark story had, but it does always include an element of compassion and emotion for an experience. And it is with those emotions that are felt while developing a story that have driven me to this new role in story coaching.