In verbose age, some stories worth hearing |

In verbose age, some stories worth hearing

Sometimes we are subjected to so much incessant talking that it is easy to be literally stunned into seeking silence. Who cares to hear another human voice clamoring for our attention?

It is easy to be frustrated at the barrage of words assaulting us every waking hour of every day of our lives. Information overload prevents us from fully processing all the words that come our way.

I call it being “over-inputted.”

Where is the pleasure in an engaging and lively conversation with a good friend if we aren’t listening?

Where does this leave the wonderful art of “storytelling” when we are so weary of hearing?

For my part I am working on developing better listening skills when it comes to people telling their life stories. That’s not hard to do around the campfire on the Ute Trail Project with Ute Indian Elder Clifford Duncan.

Last year Clifford and I realized how valuable it would be for future generations of Ute children if we used a video camera to record the traditional Ute stories Clifford knows.

We began our effort almost accidentally. Last spring Clifford and I went to visit our friend Dr. Jim Goss in Lubbock, Texas to plan our annual Ute Trail project. On the way out the door I had a last-minute thought about the new digital video camera our family got for Christmas.

I ran back into the house, grabbed the camera bag and put it in the car with the rest of our gear. That turned out to be one of the best ideas to come my way in a long time.

The three of us have worked together for years but I wasn’t sure what adding a camera to the mix would do to that relationship.

By my placing the video camera on a tripod next to me, Jim and Clifford ended up talking to me rather than to the camera. The only problem was changing tapes without interrupting the flow of conversation.

After the first tape was viewed it was evident a remote microphone was needed. A local camera store provided the right equipment and we were off and running.

The result was two and a half days worth of priceless stories from both Clifford and Jim. All I had to do was listen. Very few times did I have to ask questions to keep the dialogue going.

The filming continued last summer with Clifford and Jim telling more stories around the early morning campfire.

There is a sense of urgency with this coming summer’s Ute Trail trip. It may be the last one. Because of Clifford’s failing eyesight and advancing age he may not be able to continue walking the trail with us.

But I wasn’t thinking about Ute Indian Elders only. There are many grandmothers and grandfathers among us.

Shouldn’t there be a sense of urgency with them also? Their stories may be lost forever if we don’t care enough to preserve them.

All you have to do is listen.

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