The stories I love are old

So why do I feel I have to deliver something new?

I'm attending a Scottish Storytelling Apprentice day next week. A big part of the day is telling and receiving feedback on a 10 minute story -- or ten minutes of a story. I enjoy this part of the day a lot, and learn as much from observing others' tellings as I do from feedback on my own. 

But every time, I forget I need to have 10 minutes of story ready to go until the week before, when the reminder email comes round, and every time, it causes me intense anxiety. In fact, it's increasing over time.

It seems that the more stories I gather, the less I feel I have to offer. 

Ridiculous, untrue, but I feel it just the same.

I don't know where it comes from, but the idea that I have to always have something new to offer in order to be of value is deeply embedded in my psyche. 

This morning, I looked out of my bedroom window on a strange and wonderful sight: 

-- the field stretching from our house to the hill from which our water comes is its usual green, fading thistles drooping over the otherwise well-cropped pasture; 

-- at its edge, a stand of spruce trees; 

-- above, a grey sky, waiting for sunrise to brighten it to blue.

And between sky and earth, behind the trees, a white mist, like batting, draped over the form of the hill, ending in a line, near the foot of the hill, as straight as any in nature can be. 

It is the Cailleach's headscarf, lower to the ground than it would normally be found (it usually graces the peaks of bens and mountains), but unmistakable.

The Cailleach's story, the story of her solitary, exhausting, creative existence, her forming of the very land itself, is one with which I am intimately familiar. It is as old as the Scottish hills themselves. 

This is the story I will tell at the Apprentice day. 

I do not need a new story; I do not need to pressure or force myself. I have this story: this gift of land, and ancestors, and tradition, and oracy, that I have a duty and a responsibility to share in my turn, in my own unique way, one thread in a tapestry woven over millennia.

Image by Dustin Scarpitti on Unsplash

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