The Nature of Great Stories

There are two ways to tell simple compelling stories; the nature of people and the nature around us.

We can get really stuck trying to tell a story we think people will listen to. Sometimes it is the fear of the blank page, for others the brain freezes, and for some it is an endless series of false starts that are never good enough.

The minute we start to talk about a loved one, or our love of nature, we are engaged and engaging. We all have a relationship to nature, be it small or large, grand or tiny.

A walk to the letterbox story can be as compelling as one about climbing Mt Everest. A story about your grandchild or your grandmother can be as compelling as a huge business success you have achieved.

So here’s a story in the day in the life of myself and my grand daughter.

Yesterday I had one of the busiest days at work this year. My nearly-three year old grand daughter came to work with me. Well we had white board strategic planning sessions, creativity brainstorms, exploring out in the field, many servings of ‘tea’ from the water cooler. I am not at all sure who learned the most, and in fact who was the teacher and who was the student.

The number of activities and trail of devastation, or ‘creativity’ that a 3 year old can leave in their wake is astounding. And it wasn’t an 8-hour day, it was more like 4. If I padded it our, our activity for the day could fill a book. And there was humour, fear, laughter, tears, anger, frustration, excitement, surprise, boredom, hunger, and fatigue. We ran the gamete of just about every emotion and experience known to mankind. In four hours.

We walked down to Basque Park, a steep hill from my office, past a couple of abandoned lots, littered with broken beer bottles and graffiti.

“ Bloody mongrels,” mutters the three year old. We get to the park and a dead frond from a palm tree suddenly becomes an ‘alligator’s nose.” We are pretty sure he lives under the fountain and in the drains, but we don’t see him. Then it’s a piggyback ride up another steep hill to some more palm trees that have huge bunches of orange grape-like berries. I am now Warrior Grandpa and she is Warrior Princess. We are ready to take on the alligator at any moment if need be. The berries do look very edible, but we decide that they could be poisonous and have a game of catch with them instead. Then a woman with a three-month-old puppy called Baxter turns up. Granddaughter says she is getting a puppy and its name will be Rabbi and it will be black and white. There is a bit of a stand off with Baxter tho, a quiet observation of his exuberance. Back up the hill to the office, past the vacant lot, mumbles again about ‘bloody mongrels’ but we find some yellow daisies in the weeds, which we pick to take home for Mum.

And in the office it is time for another white board session. There are sketches of a number of snails and snakes, the symbolism I am not entirely sure about, as well as a lot of ABCs, and many more ‘cups of tea’ from the water cooler. At one point during the white board session, somewhat exhausted, I nearly nod off. This is not good enough, but then we have a sleeping and snoring game, that morphs into hide and seek with eyes closed. Then it is time for a quick You Tube clip or two on the iPad set up beside my laptop. We check out Dora and Diego clips and a regular favourite, The Gingerbread Man.

I have omitted to say that by this stage there are also sheets of flip chart paper carpeting the floor with more elaborate sketches in permanent marker, which I discreetly swap for water based. It is always the permanent marker that is the favourite, why is that?

Time to go to the café for food. She orders cheesecake; Mum and I have fries, lasagna and a filo wrap. And of course the cheesecake arrives first. Half way through it the lasagna turns up so her plate becomes a mix of cheesecake and lasagna, interesting sweet and sour concoction.

Anyway its time to go back to work. This time, ‘someone’ else is starting to get tired. A recce to retrieve peanuts that fall under the desk elicit a bumped head and a few tears. Time for another ‘cup of tea’ from the water cooler. And another whiteboard session in the board room. Now we have a wonderful mosaic right across the white board, that would do the hieroglyphics of Egyptian tombs proud.

It is time to go. So I pack up the room, with some help here and there, but get into very big trouble when the now rather wilting daisies are retrieved from the rubbish tin. I get some Clingfilm, and wrap them to take home. Shoes, tights, and various other garments and bits and pieces are retrieved from the four corners of the office. The white board session is erased. This is fun. We didn’t keep a record, but we know what was important that we covered off.

 So it’s a drive to drop off grand daughter and Mum, car seat, bags etc. all off loaded, I get home and find a rather crushed wilted and sadly abandoned bunch of daises in the back of the car. Living in the moment? That’s an understatement.

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