Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How Inspiration Works

It all started in some lazy August saturday morning. Enjoying the rare priviledge of staying in bed until late, I felt like listening to my favourite symphony, Gustav Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde' ('the Song of the Earth'), which is basically a cycle of six songs written for tenor and contralto (or baritone) and orchestra. It's particularly encouraging that my favourite symphony was written for my vocal classification, but the most interesting aspect behind 'Das Lied von der Erde' is that, being written in the Vienna of early 20th century, it was largely influenced by the (back then) mysterious universe of China. Mahler used translations of six Taoist poems in the libretto of what is considered his Materpiece.

I had listened to 'Das Lied' before, but just like with 'Riverdance' in the same month, the month of Folklore in Brazil, this time the music set me off on a very interesting journey, which included learning the German language and reading the Tao Te Ching.

This month, here in the day job, they moved me to another department. I will probably be doing the same old things--writing, proofreading, translating, doing contents maintenance for the website--, but I'm under a different manager now. A Taoist. I have been practicing the doing-by-non-doing and the empty cup attitude here in the office, and uncovering a few wonders lately.

Last night, it was the last day of the level two Storytelling workshop. Everybody performed and received five-minute-or-so individual feedback from the workshop facilitators. I told a Danish folk tale, 'The Lazy Boy', and for the first time ever, I challenged myself to tell it sitting down, instead of floating all over the space. I grounded really firm, and it was brilliant of me to do that, because I found a way around my worst difficulty in technique. Many other storytellers had the same difficulty, and they weren't as clever as I, so one of the facilitators in the feedback part suggested Tai Chi Chuan for that particular aspect of storytelling technique, which she calls 'keeping the feet on the ground'.

From all sides, the Tao is calling me.

Image: Annamaria Ducaton's 'Presenze', inspired by 'Das Lied von der Erde'.

Presence is the axis of good storytelling technique.