"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Monday, September 11, 2006

Selfish Storytelling: Help You/Help Others,Part2

The identical twin brothers of egotism and altruism must be watched closely so you can see life illuminate from your business.

In Part 1, assuming that you read that entry, you already know that my father and uncle are twins.

Let me share another story from my dad's family--

It was a cool and breezy day in early November of 1949. Barbara, a sophomore, had just come home from high school. She felt good about the day except for a dry cough that just wouldn't go away. She figured she would be over the cough soon.

But that cough was a persistent one. In time, this dry cough turned into the whooping cough. Now the whooping cough was dangerous because it could lead to pneumonia. It had a way of drawing in your breath as if you were going to choke to death--especially with all the phlegm. Usually you would make deep coughs that sounded like a "whoop"--and thus the name of the sickness.

It wasn't the type of sickness that would simply come and go. Oh no! It came to stay. Once exposed, you showed signs of it within two weeks. Then you suffered it for two weeks. Another two weeks would be recovery time . . .hopefully.

Once a family member had it, the whole family would be quarantined--or forced to stay--in the house so it wouldn't spread to the neighbors. As for my Grandma, she heard the news that her family was quarantined.

Despite the inoculation that was available, it was too late for the two-month-old twins, David and Don, caught the cough like everyone else.

The doctor knew that everyone would be able to pull through except for the twins and told Grandma, "I don't give a plug nickel for these boys' lives."

Grandma wasn't about to accept this fate for her boys. She and Grandpa were convinced that the boys could be saved--if only the boys were watched day in and day out.

Aunt Kathryn, Grandma's sister, also came forward to help with the watch.

Meanwhile, Barbara was filled with guilt. Why did she have to be the one to bring home the whooping cough from school? And yet it wasn't her fault--she didn't realize she had whooping cough until it was too late.

Barbara wanted so much to help along with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Kathryn--but they didn’t let her. She was frustrated that she--a 15-year-old--couldn't be given the responsibility to watch over her twin brothers! She hated the sound of the whooping from the rest of the family. She didn't know how to alleviate their pain.

Barbara, as well as the other three siblings, would peer inot the crib that held David and Don. The twins were so small (only about six or seven pounds each) that they could lay crossway of the bed and still have room.

Grandma slept very little--if at all--from Thursday to Sunday. The phlegm could choke her little boys at any moment, so Grandma devised a way to take the phlegm out with flannel-cloth diapers. She would wrap the cloth around her finger and insert it into the mouths of the two-month-olds.

Sometimes taking the phlegm out wouldn't do the trick. The babies would cough and not be able to catch their breath. When this happened, Grandma would place the babies on their tummies on the lower part of her arm. Then, she would swing them upward so that they could breath again.

Once Grandpa had to do mouth-to-mouth for little Don.

After weeks of constant love and attention, the family was able to pull through--including David and Don.

How often is there someone to watch over us?

We may not all have Grandma or Grandpa or Aunt Kathryn to see that all turns out well. There will always be the people, like Barbara, who wish to help but no one lets them.

The world is also full of organizations and associations that offer their help to us yet few listen. Perhaps these groups have selfish motivations since your adherence to their services creates more prestige and visibility to them. Perhaps these groups have charitable motivations for the people truly believe in what they profess and desire that others do not have to struggle as some might have done.

I believe most organizations have two identical twin brothers of egotism and altruism that can also be reflected on us, as individuals.

As a professional storyteller, it is smart to turn to the local and state arts councils. Many of these councils, like the Utah Arts Council (http://arts.utah.gov/), provide free or minimal fee classes that can guide artists on the business, marketing, or craft areas. The Utah Arts Council also provides a free online database on their website that any artist can submit to, even if the artist resides outside of Utah. Finally, the Utah Arts Council has an online calendar that anyone can submit Utah arts events.

If I want to have a competitive edge, it may seem the best idea to keep these courses, online database, and calendar quiet.

This may show an egotistical route, but this decision must be balanced with kindness.

When a decision leans too much on a selfish side, then, eventually, you will not have friends to turn to in a business crisis. When a decision leans too much on the altruistic side, then you may feel content for what you have done except for the empty wallet.

Here would be a balance in regards to the Arts Councils:

Egotistical Side—

I announce the availability of the courses, online database, and online calendar to the other storytellers in the area. The more storytellers enrolled in these areas will show the Utah Arts Council that storytelling is a strong and visible art. This will generate more respect for the art and the council may gear more of its classes and grants to this art.

As I announce these opportunities to my fellow storytellers, then some of these storytellers may announce opportunities in return.

Altruistic Side--

With more professional storytellers enrolled in the courses, they will learn skills that will raise the standard for storytellers. As more tellers are listed on the database, then there are most chances that I would not be chosen as the storyteller for a particular event. When storytelling events are listed on the calendar, there is a possibility that it may interfere with an event I am putting on.

If Grandma were to watch only one of the twins, then the other twin most assuredly would have died. When the identical twins of egotism and altruism are watched carefully, then everyone can survive and be happy—you, your peers, and even the organizations and associations.

So we can see that we can love the selfish and kind sides or ourselves as long as we do not love one over the other.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

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