If I could start my adult life over, I would do some things differently.
Knowing what I know now, I would avoid the newspaper business entirely. I also wouldn’t have spent two decades working in politics. What would I do instead?
I would become a filmmaker, an academic or a psychologist. Those three might sound rather different, but I’ve thought seriously about all three. The more I think consider it, the more sense it makes — because all three are different faces of something I do quite naturally.
You see, I’m a storyteller.
The sculptures you see above in the fountain at Five Points South in Birmingham are collectively called “The Storyteller.” The guy with the goat head is the storyteller himself. It was intended to convey the importance of storytelling in the South’s oral tradition.
Everything I’ve ever done was about storytelling in one way or another. In newspapers, I told stories and helped weave a coherent community narrative as I edited newspapers. In politics, I created narratives about clients which I sold to a gullible public.
If I could start life again, I would use storytelling in a different way. Filmmakers, academics and psychologists are at their best when they tell stories. They weave meaningful narratives to help confused people find their way in a world which is changing.