I took our Girl Scouts troop to Greenfield Village last weekend and one of my favorite places we went into was the Logan County Court House. Built in 1840 in Postville (now Lincoln), Illinois, this building was where Lincoln tried cases as a traveling lawyer. Between 1840 and 1847, he visited once or twice a year, working mostly on cases resolving neighbors’ disagreements over land, contracts and debts.

Abraham Lincoln had the reputation for honesty, thus nicknamed “Honest Abe.” When he was a young clerk, whenever he had shortchanged a customer by a few pennies, he would close the shop and deliver the correct change regardless of how far he had to walk. And he had once walked out on a client who had lied to him.

What I didn’t know, and the curator passionately informed us, was that Lincoln was a great storyteller. He learned the art of storytelling at a young age, despite his father’s illiteracy and discouragement of books and learning. Lincoln could tell stories about anything, and he used this gift as a tool to illustrate the idea he wanted to convey. He sprinkled his stories with genuine humor and cleverness and he valued other peoples’ stories as well.

The art of storytelling helped Lincoln win cases and later earned him votes when he went into politics. As he traveled, people got to know him because he took time to talk to them.

Our lives are surrounded by stories, some inspiring and empowering, others cunning and harmful. Last year, a con-artist was arrested for masterminding an email scam cartel that swindled over $60 million from victims around the world. Similarly to how we choose the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the activities we participate in throughout the day, it is important that we pay attention to the stories that we allow to run our lives.

If you have played the role of a victim or caregiver, stuck in the Cinderella or middle child complex, you want to find a way to break that pattern. Otherwise, you’ll continue to experience the same story again and again – like Bill Murray in Grounds Hog Day (watch this movie if you haven’t done so already).

It takes time to break old patterns and replace them with new ones. For me, writing down my thoughts, feelings, and actions on paper – using a pen, not a keyboard – has helped me transform my story. I give this mental exercise as much time and consideration as I do attending my yoga classes, cooking a healthy meal, and meditating – not only because I’m a writer but because I care about the continuous development of my self-discovery.

Consider this exercise: spend a few hours this weekend alone at a bookstore, café, your front porch, bedroom, or some hidden lovely spot where no one can find you. Sit down, relax, and look at an issue that is currently nudging at you, wanting you to pay attention to it. Ask yourself, how did I get here? And then write your heart out. Be real in this process and don’t use up all the paper space blaming others. Most importantly, always remember to enjoy the journey.

Abraham Lincoln2

5 thoughts on “Abraham Lincoln, the Storyteller

  1. Weam,
    Thank you for posting this very interesting story. I will be taking your suggestions to heart and will begin writing down my thoughts, feelings and action on paper. I’m sure this will help me continue by current memoir project that I have just started. I am looking forward to learning more from you next weekend at the DWW Conference.

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  2. Weam,
    Thank you for posting this very interesting story. I will be taking your suggestions to heart and will begin writing down my thoughts, feelings and action on paper. I’m sure this will help me continue by current memoir project that I have just started. I am looking forward to learning more from you next weekend at the DWW Conference.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Weam,
    Good beginning. There are so many stories that need to be told about each one of the beings here on the school house planet earth. Abraham Lincoln was a fascinating choice as a story teller, he was that but like many of us, he was a multifaceted jewel, a gift to the burgeoning test of democracy, The United States of America.

    Lincoln was a dreamer, like many others, yet he was able to honor the gifts of those dreams, be they implanted by sky beings, aka star people/ETs, or angels, or spirit. He did not dismiss them, he used them for his highest good, and for the good of our country. One vision or waking dream he had I find totally fascinating. He was looking in a mirror, he saw two reflections of himself. One healthy and vibrant, the other was gray and aged, but not elderly. Being startled by this waking dream/vision, he looked behind the mirror for a defect or a painting or photograph or some type of trickery. He found nothing, when he looked upon his image in the mirror again he saw the same two images of himself.

    This is just one example of things that make me say, hmmmmm. When modern day mortals would see two images of themselves would they ever share that with their significant other or friends or even journal about it because dreams and visions don’t happen in this waking dream we call the work-a-day world. Were the 18th and 19th century humans more intuitive than 21st century humans or just more open about these type of experiences? Hence my, hmmmmm?

    Dreams and visions are what inspired our founding fathers to test the waters of democracy and to build a more perfect union where we can experience life, liberty, and the persist of happiness.
    Abraham Lincoln was faced the vision, knowing he would have 2 terms as President of the United States, and it would indeed pay a heavy toll on his health and well being. He accepted the vision as his fate.

    Could anyone of us be so bold? Or would we cower and shrink from our fate? Hmmmmm indeed.

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    1. Leslie,

      You’ve added great depth and insight into this article. I had never heard about Lincoln’s “waking dream” of him looking in the mirror and seeing two images of himself.

      I particularly liked your description of his dreams and visions, how they contributed to this country’s foundation. Next week Saturday, I’ll quote some of your words when I speak at the Detroit Working Writers conference. People could benefit from your wisdom.

      Weam

      Like

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