Marking World Storytelling Day 2023
Ahead of World Storytelling Day tomorrow (20th March), we are reflecting on some of the questions which have arisen throughout the project, such as whose voices are shared? who ‘owns’ a story? and what makes a good story?
Everyone has a story to tell, and because of the COAST project, almost 400 have been gathered, curated, and shared. The theme for World Storytelling Day this year is ‘Together We Can’- feeling the need in society to come together and move forward together. Sharing stories has the power to do that, and so many of the stories that were gathered focus on place, connection, and community, ideas that were even more poignant during the time of lockdowns and imposed distancing.
Eva Wolfram submitted a lyrical personal reflection from 2020, and the impactful second last sentence, ‘there is plenty of room for everyone’ seems a nice note to focus on. Eva is a sculptor, writer, land artist and gardener who lives and works in Campbeltown, Kintyre. You can find out more about Eva via her website – www.evawolfram.com. Westport beach is one of her local beaches.
“I close the gate, my hands inside my sleeves. I’m well tucked into my coat and hat and scarf, barely an eye visible. ‘Don’t anyone come near me’, I think and scan my surroundings, determined to defend this last bit of freedom that is my personal space. This is Covid time, and freedom now means different things. Freedom from disease. Freedom from hardship. Freedom is the strange new enemy of joy.
“As I walk along the edge of the dunes down to the shore, my mood relaxes, and my world expands. My horizon takes to the air with the seagulls and escapes across the water to that clear line in the distance. Above it is an almost boundless sky, and before me, a wide, sandy beach stretches south in sweeping meanders. The air is fresh and clean and full of goodness. ‘Breathe it in’, I think. Wholesome air is hard to come by these days. I follow the newest tideline along the beach, my thoughts ebbing and flowing, swelling and receding, smaller and smaller. After a while, they go silent altogether. It is so good to be walking.
“A long, thin piece of driftwood has been washed onto the line of maritime debris ahead of me, bleached and smooth. Without thinking, I pick it up, point it into the wet sand and turn to draw an even circle around me, then another one on top of it. How many can I do? Whirling faster, we carve a brief but dynamic history of our meeting into the sand, driftwood and I. Then, laughing and staggering, I plant us both amidst my footprints in the circle and steady myself. The world is vast around us, but we are rooted together in our place in this brief moment. Nothing is missing. As the tide turns, foam-crested water lines creep towards our circular offering and then sweep it off its sandy canvas with interested, measured deliberation. There is great beauty and release in this unmaking. It wipes away my little world and thoughts. I take my piece of wood and turn to go.
“Looking back just a moment later, I find that the sea has already washed away every trace of us. But my mind is clear, my heart is light, and I’m ready to return to my pandemic world. ‘Thanks’, I offer, her mellow waves the only song in my head. ‘Any time’, she softly replies, giving me her broadest, sparkliest smile. I walk on. A couple wanders past me as I return, keeping a generous distance; more smiles, this time from underneath our hats. There is plenty of room for everyone. It is their turn now to walk onto a brand new beach, and in a few moments, it will be just their playful footprints in the sand that will say, ‘We were here’.”
One of the ‘tags’ stories can be searched by on the interactive map on the website is called ‘the view from 2020’ and already three years on it is stirring to consider how we share stories not just of that time, but how we continue to connect through shared experiences and histories.
Eva’s story and image is at A walk along the Westport Whirl – Coast that Shaped the World and more information on the area she wrote her story from can be found at Wild About Argyll | Explore Argyll and the Inner Hebrides.