When I arrived in LINGENAU one day before the camp started I was full of creative tension. A tension which was fueled by one nagging question: How light and enriching and – most important – loved will be the baby we have been carrying with us for about 9 months?
The Subers Ach is a super “Sach”
This was the day before the storycamp started. We were doing some final scouting, some attuning, talking, laughing, swimming, connecting and finally deep listening to the Subersach and the woods voices in the night and alone.
Dann der erste Tag. Schwimmen, Kaffee trinken, Zähne putzen am Fluss. Bevor es hinaufgeht ins Betriebsame. Flipcharts werden geschrieben. Wir kümmern uns um die letzten Details, die so wichtig sind. Kleinigkeiten überall, die es vielleicht ausmachen werden. Egon schaut vorbei, der Hausherr. Und seine Frau, die Elsa, bringt noch ein paar Blumen für die Fensterbänke im Engel. Isabella und Sabrina und all die Heinzelweibchen. Our plenary room starts blooming. As you can see I like to switch languages since LINGENAU – continuously reflecting how meaning is made and celebrating the slowdown which comes along with. This is the one side. On the other side I started to acknowledge the translator in me who is discovering new traces to hit the point – playing with connotations and backstories. Storycamping for me turned out to be the embracing of detours – even when translating.
3pm. Registration. People are arriving. 4pm. The beginning and us finally jumping into the water. Welcome. Willkommen in Lingenau. Bienvenido en este pueblo de cuentas. I am overwhelmed how the narrative community is ignoring borders, continents. Can you see our baby? My name is Wolfgang. Wulfgäng. I will re-invent myself in front of you. Transforming into a treasure hunter, a collector of things which make my heart beat faster. Are you ready? To perform yourself through stories? To go beyond your expectations? To embrace the richness in this circus like camp and build on it? To connect? To transform as well?
“Story is a thing that does rather than a things that is.” Bryan Boyd
My beloved John Berger comes to my mind when I look at all the narrative explorers gathering in this room. And “the motorbike with its headlight zigzags up the mountain. From time to time it disappears behind escarpments and rocks and all the while it is climbing and becoming smaller. Now its light is flickering like the flame of a small votive candle against an immense face of stone. For him it’s different. He is burrowing through the darkness like a mole through the earth, the beam of his light boring the tunnel and the tunnel twisting as the road turns to avoid boulders and to climb. When he turns his head to glance back — as he has just done — there is nothing except his taillight and an immense darkness.”
Ich sehe die Lichtkegeln, die in der Nacht tanzen. Und höre die Musik von Puma und Hanno. Den Schmetterlingssong, der meine Hymne wird für diese Tage. Wir sind angekommen. Irgendwie. Bunt zusammengewürfelt auf einer Terrasse ohne Ufer. Atmende Silhouetten. Im Licht der Erzählung herausgeschält aus der Dunkelheit, die uns umgibt. Die Grenzen verschwimmen. Alles ist Zirkus. Alles ist angerichtet für die Überschreitung, die wir wagen.
Neuer Tag. Ich erwache am Fluss. Und nehme seinen Rhythmus auf, bevor ich ins Camp wechsle. Marketplace of ideas. Welche Fülle? Wieviel Ordnung in diesem Chaos? Es scheint zu gelingen. Wir öffnen uns hinein in Räume, die aus Dialog gebaut sind. We are opening ourselves into spaces built out of dialogue. Alles auf Augenhöhe. The butterfly is guiding us. Hear! and now. Ich lob den Tag, bevor es Abend ist. Schnitt.
“I like escalators because they never break, they can only become stairs.” Mitch Hedberg
The circus is moving (even my car is moving by itself!) as we are moved. And so many treasures on our way. The woman who jumps out of her garden and tells her story when the story bench is not working. The cautious sharing of moments. The holding space. The laughing together. The giggling corners. The bonfire whispering. The various beginnings. The door openings into the possibility land. Like the wife finding her husband with his young lover, or the empty room of the grandfather in Santiago de Chile 1972 with the sound of a marching mass as background, the girl jumping over the brick wall to attend her gym class, or the lost woman in the Peruvian rainforest: “Suddenly, I was totally lost. The path I was heading for the last hours disappeared. The jungle around me seemed impenetrable. And – what staggered me – it was a jungle without sounds. It was like the rainforest around me took a deep breath in this very moment.” Doors. Possibilities. Inadequacies. Misfits. Matchings. All over. The knots of a network of meanings I discover with my complices around the table.
Suddenly, I hear the word coincidence three times in a row. Coincidences? No! Yes! We are there. The world is opening. Secrets all over. Secret connections. Our stories are transforming coincidences into forks. Thats it. Deciding if the train heads to Rome or Paris. And bridging fragile meanings. Story as a bridge? Like the one from Negrelli down at the Subersach? A bridge which is hanging and carrying itself at the same time? I feel close to this bridge. Also because of its simplicity. And its cinemascopic openings in its middle. Windows from where the reality seems looking at me. Von wo sehe ich mich? Als eine sich selbst tragende Hängebrücke.
What do I wanna talk about?
Podcasting at the riverbank. With Patrick und Dani. I am neither problem focused, nor solution focused. I am a storyteller. I am an attorney of manoeuvrability. Ein Anwalt der Beweglichkeit. Geschichten sind weder gut noch böse. Aber es gibt Geschichten, die uns fixieren, einengen, und solche, die uns beweglicher machen, beflügeln. Wir können wählen. Und: Wir können zum Autor unserer eigenen Geschichte werden. Re-Inventing ourselves? Umschreiben, wer wir sind? Es reicht schon, wenn wir zu schreiben beginnen. Und zu gestalten. Im Spannungsfeld zwischen Erfinden und Entdecken uns ausprobieren und überraschen lassen. Listen to the “Go Betweens” when you read this 😉 – between discovering and inventing we find our selfs.
What did suprise me the most? I think it was in the sessions I attended. The moments when theoretical reflection naturally transformed into storywork. It was always like a miracle that happened. Smoothly and light like the baby starts moving. Us. And the organizations we work with. We work in. The communities we live. The world. LINGENAU a lab for experiencing transformation? A lab for Wanderlust?
Saturday. Afternoon. When the doors of the camp are closing I am glad that our circus of half-time astronauts, chansonniers kidnapped by aliens, salon owners, samurias, russion dancers, lion tamers, clowns, shape changers, … has no doors just openings.
How do we enter story? And how do we leave storycamp? I am setting sails now with the deep feeling that I am heading in the same direction my heart, my mind and my stomach want to go. Thats a great feeling. I look back to LINGENAU and see just faces. I see the faces and hear the stories whispering. I hear a whispering and feel my heart beating. I feel this beating and see LIN-GE-NAU. Thanks for happening. Thanks for surprising. Thanks for enriching. Me in my endless guises.
Back home, late at night, I am overwhelmed by the night sky. My kids are around me and good friends. My wife. On the mountain tops I can see the bonfires of the midsummer solstice like a chain of gatherings and celebrations. Could this be a secret measurement of what I’ve achieved? Again John Berger gently knocks at the door. I let him in and his quote touches my heart: “We are all storytellers. Lying on our backs, we look up at the night sky. Tracing an imaginary line between a cluster of stars we give them an image and an identity. The stars threaded on that line are like events threaded on a narrative. Imagining the constellations did not of course change the stars, nor did it change the black emptiness that surrounds them. What it changed is the way people read the night sky.“