On Bedtime Fables

31/01/2017: They are not only for little children. On the contrary, bedtime fables have greater impact on adults. We often forget to abstract from reality, be it out- or inwards.

Let’s go for a little more relaxed story today.

One of the numerous things my favorite extrovert has taught me is the magic hidden behind bedtime fables. And by fables, I don’t mean fairy tales read from a book or billion times retold classics. I mean fables in the sense that you actively contribute to the way they evolve and make them up on the go.

You simply sit or lay yourself down next to a kid or anyone, really, close your eyes and go on a journey. Take off and explore the entirety of your imagination, forcing each and every neuron you have into producing words that have a plot. It is essentially simple in the sense of what happens, but it is important for the world to be relatively intact. But not too intact. Because there has to be something strange, uncommon, extra-ordinary to it that draws an attention. But not too much attention. Because you don’t want to induce too many thoughts that reach outside the frame of what you are saying. The story has to be somewhat boring and slow in order to make someone fall asleep in calm and nurturing environment.

I could go on and make a handbook on how to fabulate a bedtime fable. But honestly, there is a lot more feeling to it than science. You have to know the person you are saying it to very well and choose words that will make them calm. Avoid bad memories, complicated phrases, bad language, current political issues, school, job, the money market… I could go on. The main wish of the storyteller is to induce dreams as sweet as those of character Cupcake from the Rise of the Guardians. You want to play Sandman.

When the person you are telling the story falls asleep, the second, almost just as important part of the total effect of such deed, suddenly kicks in. You have exercised your imagination and your brain to the point that you have cleared it from all the issues you were busy thinking about before. You delved into an artificial world, where it was just you, your listener(s) and everything and anything that you want to be there. But most importantly, nothing else.

While dealing with all the issues I had over the first year of living and studying in the UK, I have been given the chance (or rather forced to, if you want to put it that way) to become the storyteller. And soon enough, I found out that it really helps. And no matter how tired I was before telling my little fable, I managed to fall asleep within minutes myself.

What I am trying to point out here is the importance of fantasy and creativity in today’s massively task and number oriented society. In order to get there, though, let’s go to a practical example.

Kids have been known to lie. To make up stories featuring themselves and telling them to others as if they were true. What they get from their parents is mostly a look of disbelief and, in the worst case, a 45 minute lecture on the negative aspects of lying. Now, don’t get me wrong, lying your way through every day of your life is bad for you and basically only you. But by this forced prevention, the kids become afraid or even unable to use the full potential of their creativity and sense for detail.

If the story does not relate to any real-life issue, for example when the child’s story is about how they drove a car at night only to bring an interesting floppy to their grandparent’s house, and then refilled the car’s tank to the exact same level as before they left so that nobody finds out, it should be perfectly fine to let them go about it.

When you are an adult, you lose these options. Nobody is going to believe you that you went hunting snakes in Indonesian jungle and then sold their scales for a quarter apiece to American tourists in Japan. But you can make yourself a little space in order to tell the story anyway, to someone who may not exactly believe, but definitely will not laugh at you for being a weirdo.

Tell your kids stories, people. Because that way, you will will gain just as much as the child. The kid will appreciate the presence and effort of their parent beyond the good-night kiss after a long and stressful brushing of their teeth that involved a lot of screaming. You, you will have the chance to recharge and become regaining the power, which the current world seems to be losing. The power of innocent creativity.