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Putting the sacred back into storytelling

I was on a road trip recently for the second iteration of Pridefinder: the Rainbow Road Trip. I travelled over 2000 kilometres visiting 13 towns throughout regional Victoria. Apart from the sheer excitement of meeting new people and collecting stories, what I also love about road trips are the many hours I have to listen to podcasts. 

As an audio content creator I am always on the look out for exceptional podcasts. But the fact that there are a gazillion podcasts in the world it’s not easy to find the good ones. It takes work to find the gems.

Prior to getting on the road I do some serious research. First of all, I find out what podcasts have won worthy awards. Then I go to podcast reviewers who I respect, and see what they’re recommending. I read their reviews and if the podcast appeals to me, I find it on Apple Podcasts and hit follow, cueing them up for the drive. 

During both Pridefinder road trips (2023 and 2024) I listened to a lot of podcasts. Well, it would more accurate to say I binged on podcasts. Oftentimes I would be so completely absorbed that I would lose all sense of time. What a wonderful thing! I love that stories can transport us in such powerful ways. 

But over time something didn’t feel quite right. I had consumed so many podcasts that when I would go to tell people about them, I would forget some of the ones that had completely captivated my attention. How could I not remember stories that had moved me so deeply?

This felt wrong on so many levels. I suddenly felt like a content guzzling machine, greedily consuming stories like Cookie Monster eating cookies, one after the other after the other. Some stories had been deeply disturbing like The Children in the Pictures from LiSTNR which follows an Australian-based police investigative team, as they go undercover to rescue children from online sexual abuse. That podcast hit so hard. But what did I do after I finished it? I went straight onto another one, and before I knew it, The Children in the Pictures faded into the background without me processing the enormity of that reality. 

This alone made me realise I wasn’t giving myself time to reflect and I wasn’t giving each podcast due consideration. Josh Schrei from The Emerald podcast talks about putting the sacred back into storytelling. He said traditionally stories have been sacred. Sacred things aren’t to be hurried and they deserve our respect. 

When stories are made to be greedily consumed I wonder whether they lose their potency and power to change us for the better. So much research has shown that humans are hardwired for stories. It is through stories that we connect. But when we rush stories I wonder if are missing the opportunity to truly connect with each other.

Over time I have come to see the value in slowing down when I listen to stories: to put doing something else aside and offer stories my full attention and presence; and to make time for reflection. What’s more, I believe it is listening to stories alongside others that we are able to go a lot deeper. When we put the sacred back into storytelling we honour each story and in the act of communal listening, we can explore the impact a story has, and hold each other in our vulnerability as we allow ourselves to be touched or moved by stories. 

Since this last road trip, I have made it my mission to create space for people to come and listen to stories, together, creating a dedicated space for stories to be shared alongside other humans.

I’m calling it Story as Soul Medicine.

PS: If you would like a list of those podcasts I listened to please get in touch and I'll gladly share.

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