“The world would not be in such a snarl, if Marx had been Groucho not Karl.” (Irving Berlin)


The title of this post has nothing to do with my theme but I really love the word play Irving Berlin came up with to celebrate Groucho Marx’s birthday in 1966. Great quotes, like this one, give me aspirations like the idea that came to as I slept last night. As much as I love writing words, I hate giving speeches so it’s pretty odd that my dream was about giving a speech at the Ogallalah Festival. It’s even weirder when we consider there is no Ogallalah Festival, YET!

Just to be clear, there is an Ogallala Festival in the town of Ogallala, Nebraska which shares its name with the Ogallala Aquifer. For those of you who don’t know much about the Great Plains of America, all you need to know is that the aquifer is an underground reservoir of water that dates back to the last Ice Age and makes living on this part of earth possible. About one quarter of irrigated American farmland exists because the Ogallala Aquifer provides the water needed for farming. There would be no breadbasket of the world without the Ogallala. It has been estimated that when the Ogallala Aquifer finally runs out it will take 6,000 years to replenish it.

I think this ancient life-sustaining reservoir of water is the perfect metaphor for my thesis. Words are like rivulets of water that flow into the reservoir of the collective consciousness of humanity and it needs to be replenished as often as possible by people who deeply care about communication like myself. Many of the posts I have written in the last six plus years are just recollections of my life experience. I try to share stories that have meaning for all or are at least worth laughing about. I don’t profess to have any exceptional insight into the meaning of life but I do try to write stories that may be meaningful to others around the world. The last time I counted, this blog has been read by people from more that 150 different countries. I’m not sure how my words are being taken in Botswana but I’m humbled by that possibility.

My subconscious mind works overtime and it never shuts off because I dream a lot. Last night it was a vivid tale of giving a speech about my life in 1975. That was a turning point year in my life and I will never have another one like it. I moved out of the fraternity house that spring. I turned 21 in February. My roommate and I won the All-University Doubles Horseshoes Tournament that March. I played on the Big Eight Club Soccer Championship Team for K-State. (That one’s a bit of a stretch because I never saw the field during a game but I was the designated driver to all the away games that year.) I took my favorite college class, American Folklore that spring semester. My best friend Clark married his wonderful wife Adenia and I made the first of many trips to Oregon to see them, that summer. I changed my major from journalism to social science that fall because I hated writing articles for the school paper. As a result of that decision, I took up writing a journal just to prove I could write. I kept that up for about three years until I met my future wife and life happened.

It’s been forty years and life has happened again and again. Now I’m desperate to find the true meaning of my existence before I die. After 200 blogs and several book ideas, I think I might be on the right track. As much as I love the written word and God knows I spent a lot of years devoted to putting ink on paper, I find myself finally realizing that oral communication is the part that’s been missing. Emails, texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all lack the human response that comes from conversation. Without the opportunity to receive a genuine real-time reaction I have no good way of knowing how I’m doing. I’m just writing in a vacuum and only infrequently do I even get a comment. I know I can do better that that and therefore I am committed to starting the Ogallalah Storytelling Festival. I had to misspell it so it won’t get confused with all the great things that happen up in Nebraska every year. If those fine folks would like to participate in this idea, I would be happy to listen.

I just think we need to bring back oral history. Storytelling festivals are not an original idea so I’m just adding another voice to the chorus but maybe this time it could be stories from this era. I think the Old West was an amazing time to be alive, if you could survive all the hardships, but I also think the world of today is pretty incredible and as such it deserves our best storytelling efforts. I meet so many kids today who have no idea who Stevie Wonder is or who never heard of the Beatles. That’s just sad. I’m sure they all think their music is the best ever but that doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate songwriters like Stevie Wonder and Paul  McCartney.

So, now I’m asking. Is this an idea worth pursuing? I’m going to need lots of help and I should probably try crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe but I’m not going to waste my time if everyone else out there thinks this is stupid or useless. Those of you who continue to follow this blog must believe that I’ve done something worthy of your time. I sincerely hope so and I will continue to do so but I think it’s time for me to try my luck in a new arena. I see no way this will ever make me a living so I plan to keep working but what if we were all part of the revival of humanity caused by a few people who just came together to share stories and express the joy found in our common humanity? I want to see your smiles, I want to hear you laugh and I want to be able to thank you in person for being part of my life. WordPress will never be able to give me that experience and without it my life will be less that it could have been.

Words are meant for a higher purpose and we all need the encouragement they can provide. I’m going to keep writing forever but now I realize that my keystrokes just aren’t enough to give my life the meaning that I seek. Some how I will find a way to make this happen, so mark this date on your calendar. This is the day the Ogallalah Storytelling Festival was created. Feel free to tell me I’m crazy, that will make me try even harder.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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