Pi and Storytelling

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“A story that will make you believe in God.” That is how one of the books I read recently is described. It is a great promise and the kind of impossible mission that if something can achieve then that something is a story.

There once was a boy who survived many months in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a boat with a tiger after the ship, on which he and his family were travelling, sunk. Fighting hunger, fear and suffering, he held onto his faith when ultimately he reached land and was saved. Due to his attraction to stories, he found himself embracing all main religions despite him being raised as a Hindu. By now, you probably figured out I am talking about Pi Patel from the book “Life of Pi”.

When he was saved and then questioned about what happened to the ship that sank and to him in the lifeboat before reaching land, he told the investigators a story of courage, suffering and holding on to faith as he was accompanied by a few wild animals. He also told them how he found an island with hard to believe characteristics, inhabited by lots of meerkats. So the investigators insisted Pi told them what “really” happened to which Pi replied: “You want a story that won’t surprise you […] that won’t make you see higher or further or differently.”

He then proceeded to retelling the story, but this time there were no wild animals involved. Instead he spoke of how certain people beside him survived the sinking, but only he made land alive ultimately because of some tragic events that happened on the lifeboat. The investigators were saddened by the story but thanked Pi for his statement. Then, Pi asked them which story they prefer since the conclusion is pretty much the same. They said they preferred the one with the animals and hard to believe floating island with many meerkats as its sole inhabitants.

The boy used his imagination and storytelling abilities to make more of his experience than just a mix of days of suffering and doing whatever necessary to cling to life. He made it into a story of pain, but also about companionship, his struggles with his relationship with Richard Parker the tiger, but also about faith and how important it was to him in his darkest hours, his belief in God built also through his attraction to stories.

Pi’s story is an example of how drawn we are to stories and storytelling. Also an interesting fact is that we are sort of hardwired to tell stories and there is a simple experiment to prove it.

I started this blog post by telling you about Pi because the book really inspired me, as I’m trying to improve my writing skills, but also because the other thing I want to mention to you is the conference called “The Power of Storytelling” which this year was also held briefly in Cluj-Napoca and I was happy to attend. That experiment I told you about earlier was mentioned in the speech given by Cristian Lupsa. He also talked about why storytelling is important and how it is done best, together with examples from the magazine “Decat o revista”. Alongside him, also spoke Mircea Tomescu, communication specialist, and a Pulitzer Prize winner journalist called Jacqui Banaszynski. I found her especially inspiring because of her way of attracting the audience by her own storytelling, from previous journalistic experiences, to creating special bonds with people to her journeys through Romania.

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All
in all it was a great experience for one evening, inspiring but also
bittersweet because I would have liked it to last longer than just a few hours
and be able to absorb much more information from experienced people in the field of storytelling. I hope next year it will be a bigger event just as it is in
Bucharest.

Thank you for reading and Feel free to leave a comment!

Work hard, have faith and stay inspired!

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