Thursday, January 31, 2008


Two nights ago, when I was telling my version of Iron John, I began by saying, "Once." Suddenly, I was overcome by the possibilities of the word. I had to pause and even said to the gathered group, "For some reason, suddenly, the word 'once' is taking great root in my brain at this very moment."

In my singular moment of the word "once" I thought of Hawaii teller Jeff Gere who tells a story about a king who wanted to know the essential nature of time. In that story, he sticks his head in a bowl of water and lives a lifetime before being snapped back into this world, nearly avoiding drowning. When I had that "once" moment on Monday night, I suddenly understood Jeff's story. Inside that moment of "once," I remembered all the stories that I have told. I remembered the possibilities of what "once" means. I thought that just that simple word can mean so much before and so much yet to come.

I thought about the other times I have told Iron John, a story I developed for my work with adolescent boys. I recalled one of the first times I told the story and then debriefed with the boys after it. The kid who had the most to say in that conversation was one that everyone else thought of as a problem boy. "Problem boy" of course meant that his teachers said he did not sit still in class and as an adolescent was too big to try to control in a typical classroom. However, in this discussion of Iron John, he was all over and immersed in the story. He caught nuances that I had missed, found connections others could only shrug at. Amazing kid.

I thought of my gig this weekend where I will be working with freshman boys (14-15 years old) who are working through a spiritual development process. I thought about how honored and lucky I am to not only use my storytelling as "business storytelling" but to be part of an opportunity to engage in a "touchstone" with 40+ young men and their leaders. I'll be telling them the whole version of Iron John.

I looked at the people gathered to hear me tell my story. Many I knew well. I had to stop and say, "I can't tell you how much that one word, 'once,' just meant to me." For them, it was fleeting. For me it was a very long "once."

I know that this is an ethereal post. But it is what happened to me. It is in these moments that I really remember what "once" drew me to this art form. It's who I am.

The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Once and only once did this story happen, although we tell it over an over. But once, just once, it is your story. You'll tell it again, but never the same way to the same people in the same time and place.