The Smell of Wet Hair and Fresh Soap

In 2011, I was half way through a group facilitation course that I was loving, but as is my way, (at that time in my life?), I hadn’t finished the new thing I thought held my future working life, when I was already dreaming about something else. 

This time that ‘something else’ was storytelling.  I was regularly listening to the podcast ‘The Art of Storytelling’, an interview show where they interviewed the best, brightest and bravest storytellers of North America.  And I was hooked.

I had already been playing around with storytelling and while I couldn’t quite see the connection to group facilitation, I felt sure I could make them mash together. 

The facilitation course set us in small groups and as part of our training, each group had to facilitate the bigger group for the day.  

So the day arrived where my partner Trish and I were to host.

I was hooked on story and desperately wanted to use my chance with an audience to tell a story.  Trish was fine with me doing that, and the leaders were hesitant but in the name of learning said I could do it. 

I knew exactly the story I wanted to tell. 

In the podcast “The Art of Storytelling” each guest tells a story and there were lots I liked but a recent one stood out, and was a great fit for facilitation.

I was new enough at storytelling that I didn’t really understand the malleability of a story and the ability to shape it in any way I liked.  I told it just like I’d heard it.

There was an image in the story that was really evocative, and so I used it -verbatim, even though it was not necessary for the story at all.  The protagonist in the story, an archer, goes up to a small house and knocks on the door.  A woman answers.  She has long red hair, down to her waist, it is wet, and she smells like fresh soap.

This woman, let alone her long red wet hair,  could have been written out of the story and it would have made no difference.  But her presence brought the presence of those listening.   Hearing those details brought a clear, strong and sensory experience for me, and taught me the power of a few strokes of sense descriptors.

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