|I'll Fly Away (sold), was inspired by a Saturniid moth in my Hawaii studio|
Now one thing I’ve noticed is that when someone tells a story about a wildlife encounter, especially one that has an alligator, the story tells more about the person than the gator. Just about everyone here has a story, and in the telling, I learn about Florida, human nature and the human heart. Fostering the telling brings people together to celebrate this unique place, weird and wacky as it can be. In my opinion, a lot of people move here and just kind of use the place, not really interacting with the wonder of it.
When I taught that Writing for Radio class at the Peace River Center for Writers, and no one showed up with a story idea, I asked everyone to write about gators. A song-writing environmental lawyer and his guitar –playing buddy picked up a gator—not too small but not so big that it didn’t just fit in their beer cooler-- and drove it over state lines just to be able to say to an unsuspecting friend, “Want a beer? Help yourself. There’s some in the cooler.” After an old man with two hearing aids likened the gator in his trailer park to an old boot camp buddy, the stories rolled out pretty smoothly, with lots of laughter, surprise and recognition.
I could stand up and tell other people’s stories, which I’m happy to do, but mostly, I get a charge out of fostering storytelling. Though I can’t resist a good Liar’s Contest, it’s the true stories I’m looking to hear in a way that people can share with each other. My student with the two hearing aids said to me. “I’ve figured you out. You like to wind people up and watch them go!” He’s right.