First, I have to tell you a story, a true one. Close to 20 years ago, I was attending a local threshing event one weekend.
I was walking around when I saw one of my high school English teachers. We will call her Mrs. ABC.
I had not seen Mrs. ABC since 1965. She was an old-fashioned teacher who made it her job to teach and our job to learn. She was the teacher, we were the students. It was close to a business relationship.
Your feelings, good or bad, really did not matter. It was sit down and get to work because she expected results.
One day toward the end of the school year, when other teachers were letting up, she said to us. “I want you to read the Vision of Sir Launfal. We are having a test on it the day after tomorrow.”
I can still hear the gasps from my fellow students upon hearing this. That day it was read, discussed, and then, two days later, we had a test.
The Vision of Sir Launfal is a lengthy poem about a knight in search of the Holy Grail. He assembles other knights and amidst much glory, announces he is going to find the Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper.
The night before he is to leave he has a dream and that is the vision. It is a great story with lots of lessons in it.
I knew nothing about The Vision of Sir Launfal before Mrs. ABC assigned it to us, but after reading it, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the poem and its lessons.
Years later in the early ’80s, I told my daughter when she was in her teens about it and how someday I would like to find it in a book.
My daughter is a bookworm by nature and one Christmas she handed me several photocopied sheets. It was The Vision of Sir Launfal.
She had gone to a large library to do a search (this was precomputer days) and found a book at a neighboring library that had the poem in it.
The large library borrowed the book from the neighboring library and she copied the pages for me.
I put those sheets in plastic pages and bought a three ring binder to store them. I finally had my own copy.
Let’s get back to Mrs. ABC at the threshing show. I recognized her easily. She had not changed that much.
I worked up enough courage to walk over to her and said, “Mrs. ABC, I am Clayton Rye and I had you for a teacher in 1964. You had us read the Vision of Sir Launfal. I enjoyed it so much that I have my own copy. Thank you for showing me that piece of poetry.”
Mrs. ABC looked at me and from this expressionless face I heard, “I don’t remember you or the Vision of Sir Launfal.”
What could I do?
I smiled meekly, put my tail between my legs and walked away.
Telling a story by having it read leaves out the emotion that accompanies the story, a distinct disadvantage because by the time I get to Mrs. ABC’s reply to me, I am smiling.
It is about good intentions that turned out unexpectedly and about a teacher who remained who she was years later. For her, teaching was a business relationship and once the business was done, that was the end.
Why am I telling this story? I am a person who enjoys hearing a story even more than telling one. All of us have stories in us.
By now you may be saying that you are not a story teller. Oh yes, you are.
Storytelling comes with practice, so start practicing. Good stories deserve to be repeated so tell the same story to different audiences. There is your practice. Do it once and then do it again.
All of us have stories that need to be told and there are people who want to hear our stories.
It is a tradition that has been carried on for thousands of years and there is no need to stop now. It is much better than television and way more entertaining.
I need to read the Vision of Sir Launfal again. I will do a Google search and have it in seconds. No, I believe I will read my daughter’s copies.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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