Sunday, September 04, 2011

Coyote laughter

Do you hear it? That's coyote laughing. I have been reading about coyote in a book from the West Coast about storywork. I like that term "storywork" - a term that means using stories to make a difference. It's a stronger term than "teaching tale." Of course a book on the way stories do work requires coyote. Coyote taught me the power of stories to make change happen. He also taught me not to pretend I could predict the way change would happen or what it would mean. That's not coyote territory. 

What I mean is this: when I was starting to train NLP, I let Coyote into the room one day (through a children's story by Thomas King). And once he was there, he stayed. Unpredictable leverage points came and went. So did laughter. There was a certain edginess in the room, but also an effervescence, a liveliness. That was coyote's doing. And I learned that a story is a call to a spirit or state, and that it makes changes in the way a day will unfold. On that day, I learned not only to tell stories, but to make them work.

 In Native stories, Coyote is somehow endearing although he causes endless havoc and quite a bit of laughter. I often think that Coyote explains a lot about how the world does and doesn't function and that we are missing something because our dominant mythologies (not all of them religious) do not make room for a trickster.

 Coyote is also good at howling in the face of pain and injustice and plans that don't work out. Coyote's life is full of injustice and plans that don't work out and that gives him his voice - loud and strong and persistent. He makes so much noise that sometimes the world adjusts itself to him. Sometimes things get better if you just make enough noise. It's an interesting learning for someone with cautious ears.

 I have been reluctant to invite coyote into the room. He is amazingly creative but not very comfortable and he makes it hard to run a business. I call lots of stories into the room who fit more easily into the way I like to teach. Almost everything seems better without coyote's endless schemes and loud interruptions. And yet, there is something about coyote that is irresistible, something that defies the need for order and defines us as being actively alive. I am afraid to call him back and yet I wonder when he will show up again. If the stories about him are true, he'll be back - whether I will it or not.

Coyote knows where the action is, and he always makes his way back.

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