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  • Story time

    It’s been a quiet week in Cuyahoga Falls…

    Some of you may recognize that my salutation for this blog is a mild corruption of Garrison Keillor’s opening for his Lake Wobegone stories. Keillor has been spinning tales about his fictional boyhood town for over twenty years and, as it happens, he’s appearing this evening at Blossom Music Center. Guess where that is?

    Garrison Keillor is, to many, a national treasure. He didn’t become one by virtue of his musical talent, acting ability, good looks or even as a writer of special note. He got there because he could tell stories. And I mean verbally. When he speaks, people listen. They remember. They forget as well, at least, about their own lives for awhile.

    As I get closer to that time when I hit the road to teach again I’m considering adding a little more story to my presentation. Those of you who’ve heard me speak know that I don’t do a lot of that because I recognize the problems inherent to any story telling: things get placed out of order, negative aspects of the teller’s behavior often get downplayed, the context is changed or invented to fit the point the speaker’s trying to make and whole speeches are fabricated for the same reason. It isn’t that I don’t like stories; I do. I just don’t trust them – even when I’m the teller.

    But a story’s power to inspire, make a point, entertain and teach all at once is undeniable and I need to soften my stance here. I’ve a few to tell: there’s my sitting in the audience before Bobath and Feldenkrais, my first contact and years with Stan Paris, my isolation and revelation for 28 years in a solo practice (the revelation was of the slow motion variety, I should add), my return to staff work in a nursing home. I’ll have to work on some of them in order to make each what it might be. I’ll have to lie a little. I’ll have to forget that I’m lying. As in war, in story telling, the first casualty is the truth.

    I have noticed that Keillor’s stories never turn in the directions one might expect though there’s no single dramatic turn to be found. You start here and you end up in a totally foreign place, not quite knowing how he got you there.

    Maybe that’s the secret of his success. Maybe I’ll try that.

    I suppose this is as good a place as any to try it out.

    More soon.
    Barrett L. Dorko

  • #2
    The first casualty in storytelling is indeed the truth; and the story gets further away from the truth exponentially as years go by. I'm aware of this at present as I am trying to make sense of my father's 'memoirs' of his rather dramatic life in two hemispheres starting in 1910, and am convinced I will never know the truth - only his truth.

    But he made a good story out of his life.

    Nari

    Comment


    • #3
      Jennie's Door

      I once began a few workshops in this way:

      Soon after moving from Atlanta to our new home in Ohio we had carpeting laid in my daughter Jennie’s bedroom. I noticed that the door dragged along the pile and, after some thought, decided to alter the door. So I took it off its frame, carried it down to the basement held it clamped between my knees and worked on the end with a wood plane.

      The wood grain ran in several directions and the tool was by no means ideal but I was young and big and strong and determined. I didn’t let the effort, sweat or painful positioning deter me and I shaved off what I felt would be sufficient length of the door to clear the carpet.

      I hauled it back up the stairs and set it in place only to find that I had been working at the top of the door.

      Though young, I already understood that expressing any sort of rage would be useless, and I soon came to understand that this event was a metaphor for my career as a manual therapist to that point. I often simply went after the thing in my hands in much the same manner; no real thoughtfulness, no respect for what it might be telling me and always with overwhelming force (or, at least I imagined it so) at my command.

      I began to change my approach and then my actual method. I began to think first.

      Jennie’s door is still a little short at the top.
      Barrett L. Dorko

      Comment


      • #4
        This is a great story Barrett. I look forward to more.
        Sounds like you had no problem with 'knowledge translation.'
        Diane
        www.dermoneuromodulation.com
        SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
        HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
        Neurotonics PT Teamblog
        Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
        Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
        @PainPhysiosCan
        WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
        @WCPTPTPN
        Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

        @dfjpt
        SomaSimple on Facebook
        @somasimple

        "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

        “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

        “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

        "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

        "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

        Comment


        • #5
          Story Telling and Science
          Eric Matheson, PT

          Comment


          • #6
            Link to the webcast discussed in Eric's last link.
            Diane
            www.dermoneuromodulation.com
            SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
            HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
            Neurotonics PT Teamblog
            Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
            Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
            @PainPhysiosCan
            WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
            @WCPTPTPN
            Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

            @dfjpt
            SomaSimple on Facebook
            @somasimple

            "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

            “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

            “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

            "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

            "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

            Comment


            • #7
              On the evening before President Kennedy was shot in Dallas Dick Maxwell lined up at wide receiver for his fraternity team on the intramural football field at The Ohio State University. “Back then those games were little more than organized fights,” he once told me. He caught a touchdown pass, the ball cradled beneath his chin – and then an opponent pounced.

              Eight years later I walked into Dick’s room and began doing a job that would become central to my life. I remember it more clearly than any girlfriend, any good time I had with friends, and any class I took.

              A former Marine and very sure of what he needed and wanted, Dick wasn’t always patient at 5AM and, in fact, he wasn’t my patient; he was my boss. At 5 I wasn’t always fully awake either, but we found our way. With virtually no hand function and just some weak biceps action available, Dick could write a bit and turn on his speaker phone but his arms were used primarily to gesture. I learned to read his face, the tilt of his head, the subtle changes in the movement of his diaphragm.

              Each morning, and I mean seven days a week, I did what attendants do. In ’92 I wrote: “Each day for 3 years I handled limbs that could not be consciously moved…(and) if not moved with a certain care and respect they would object violently. I came to understand that the body that is not consciously moved is yet not perfectly still. In a way unique to itself it always remains reactive to the intent of our touch.”

              Today I handle patients in a fashion that reminds me of those mornings with Dick, and I think about how the skills we acquire in life aren’t always the ones we might choose.

              Sometimes we're just looking for some way to pay the rent or the tuition, never imagining that the lesson comes in something we're paid to do.
              Barrett L. Dorko

              Comment


              • #8
                Barrett,

                I wondered about this thread for a while, but never got around to posting what I was wondering. After reading your writings for years, it seems to me you are a wonderful story teller. I agree that stories can have the advantage of inspiring as well as teaching. I think it is possible they could encourage your students to use and put into practice more of the information they get from your course.

                You said you have not used stories in your classes, but do you consider stories to be part of your writing?
                Not every jab needs to be answered with a haymaker. - Rod Henderson

                Comment


                • #9
                  Gerry,

                  Yes, I write them better than I tell them.

                  I've a few more welling up. More soon.
                  Barrett L. Dorko

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stan's Passion

                    Seated in a fine hotel in downtown Montreal I watched as Stan Paris charmed us, scared us, inspired us and held himself in very high regard. It wasn’t that he had no legitimate claim to this, but the concept of self-deprecation seemed completely foreign to him. It was 1974, and I find today he’s pretty much the same.

                    I found myself wanting to be noticed, and though this wasn’t new to me, the fact that I was a good deal younger and less experienced than just about everyone else in the room wasn’t lost on me. The World Congress of Physical Therapy was to begin the following week and therapists from several countries surrounded me, including a friendly but slightly enigmatic Chilean named Rocabado. We became friends, and our futures were forever intertwined with the self-confident New Zealander.

                    I remember thinking within the first hour of this nine day workshop, “I want to teach this one day, and I want to work in the clinic this guy imagines he will build.”

                    It all came true, and in December of this year, 34 years later, I’m to stand before the faculty of Stan’s university and explain what it is I understand and demonstrate what I do.

                    I’ll begin with this story, but then I’ll have to show them how wrong they’ve been - including Stan.
                    Barrett L. Dorko

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Oh my. Barrett, you have an unerring talent to put yourself in the crosshairs, don't you? You have brass ones, for sure. A very adventurous opportunity, and I wish I could be there to look around me and see what happens to the audience when you speak.

                      Will Mariano be there too?
                      We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are - Anais Nin

                      I suppose it's easier to believe something than it is to understand it.
                      Cmdr. Chris Hadfield on rise of poor / pseudo science

                      Pain is a conscious correlate of the implicit perception of threat to body tissue - Lorimer Moseley

                      We don't need a body to feel a body. Ronald Melzack

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wow! I can't wait to read the story written about that class!
                        Not every jab needs to be answered with a haymaker. - Rod Henderson

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mariano won't be there to my knowledge. This six hour workshop for about a dozen faculty is being orchestrated by Stan Paris and Katherine Patla. I prepare a little bit each day and though it would be nice if they read something beforehand I've made several attempts to engage them on Soma Simple to no avail.

                          If anyone out there has any advice I'd be interested. This will not be my usual class or audience.
                          Barrett L. Dorko

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This will not be my usual class or audience.
                            If their indifference to appearing publicly here is any indication, in many ways I don't think they'll be all that different from usual. How do you think they'll be different?
                            Speak to them as peers, your equals, and I would expect them to respond to you the same. They are just people after all. Other than that, I wouldn't go into any great effort to explain how they have things wrong, just stick to your facts and your story.
                            Eric Matheson, PT

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I tend to agree with Eric. Presenting your stories without reference to what's wrong with theirs could have the following effects:

                              1) Wow, who is this guy?
                              2) I hadn't known/realised that before...hmmm
                              3) He's in lala land - hasn't he read about EBP?
                              4) When's lunch?

                              This is a real challenge, Barrett. In short, though, I would not mention their errant ways. Just yours, (without the errantcy). Then see, with the post-mortems, what happens.

                              Nari

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