Last week, I was driving on the freeway from Cape Town city centre to my office in Claremont, a drive of about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful, cloudless, Friday afternoon and the traffic was building up but was still relatively free-moving, travelling at about 50 km/h (30 m’h) when I caught sight of a man walking up a pedestrian ramp that lead to a walkway that lead over the freeway. I looked. Then looked again. He was completely naked, except for a pair or royal blue and white training shoes…

What’s all the fuss and noise about stories? Why do they have the ability to do extraordinary things for us; for the audience, the listener and the speaker?

How does one convey a message about something that is as powerful as stories, that words somehow do it an injustice? It’s a bit like trying to describe love.

Neuro-science research, when using a MRI scan, reveal how the brain lights up like a Christmas tree when a story is told, yet when just the facts are told, only two small pieces of the brain in the left frontal lobe light up: Wernicke’s Area and Broca’s area. These areas of the brain used to process language.

Why do we sometimes feel so included, treated, experience such presence, grace, aliveness, laughter, emotion, insight and connection in the presence of stories?

1. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. We are either in a place of being a recipient or we are not; we hear it or we don’t; our lives are either changed or not, depending on if we are there or not. When nature, the universe, or where we are on our journey finds us in that place of hearing or telling a story, something new and interesting happens.

2. Stories play into our imagination, our very personal imagination, which is undisturbed by criticism or judgment. In unique and extraordinary ways, this means the listener experiences their own version of the event, and everyone gets their own movie. The story must be told with detail, grace, love and vulnerability; not glossed over and ‘reported on.’ The biggest mistake that people make in telling their stories is that they don’t tell their stories with emotion, drama and intrigue; we think they are ‘old hat’ and not particularly interesting. Our stories are there to be shared. They are not our own.

3. An Aha! moment appears for the listener, which otherwise would not have happened. The timing is everything. We are our journeys, so we hear what is meant to be heard for us, in that moment.

4. We can translate those stories into action and action changes things. The universe response to action, over thought. It’s a voice spoken, a word used, a feeling expressed. Without this, nothing happens. To honour the story is to honour ourselves and to take action and do something, say something. That said, there is nothing we have to do, because it’s all private and we can do whatever we choose to.

Here’s a story of an event that happened to me recently:

Last week, I was driving on the freeway from Cape Town city centre to my office in Claremont, a drive of about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful, cloudless, Friday afternoon and the traffic was building up but was still relatively free-moving, travelling at about 50Kph (30mph) when I caught sight of a man walking up a pedestrian ramp that lead to a walkway that lead over the freeway. I looked. Then looked again. He was completely naked, except for a pair or royal blue and white training shoes.

I wondered what he was doing and why he was doing it. Was he part of a the global community who believe that clothes are the work of Satan? Had he escaped from an institution? Was he on psychedelic drugs? I opted for the former, because he looked so relaxed, so comfortable and so normal.

It is a great regret that I did not stop the car and ask what he was doing.

My next post will be entitled, Lessons and reflections from the naked man.

Are you willing to share a story?