Maggie Petru
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The Teller of Tales

Telling tales has been of part of human nature since the cave dweller. Whether the stories were true didn’t matter. So long as the storyteller temporarily warded off the dark and the cold and the boredom for his audience, that was enough.

Sometimes the tales were warm and comforting. Other times they were scary, warning of dangers the community’s youth needed to understand and avoid. Still other tales were fantasy, explaining thunder and storms and death to untutored beings who could only experience the phenomenon, not understand it. Whatever their purpose, the telling of tales was considered a gift and the storyteller was a respected member of the community.

We can only speculate when our ancestors began trying to write down their stories. Drawings have been found in caves dating from thousands of years BC. What we don’t know is the significance of those drawings. Was the artist brightening dark, damp dwellings with messages about the game available to the tribe’s hunters in this location? Or was he perhaps illustrating his best tale about a hunt or a disaster in which numerous members of the tribe were killed by these same deadly beasts?

The troubadour of the Middle Ages wandered Europe using his tongue and his imagination, and perhaps his lute, to put a roof over his head and food in his belly. He also preserved the oral histories of our illiterate forefathers through the nation’s legends until the printing press was invented to make a permanent record of those true – and not so true – tales.

Although modern man has his computer and his television and his theatre, he still loves a good story. Sad, funny, scary, fantastical, true or created. - we swap our own daily dramas for a little peep into the world of someone with a whole other set of problems. Problems we don’t need to solve even though their solution may bring us a little vicarious joy.

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