Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dealing with Fear by Mike Lockett

A twelve-year-old student was in my storytelling class in Taichung Taiwan.  

“Do you have any questions?” I asked the class.

The girl meekly raised her hand and asked, “How can I stop being afraid?  I am scared to get up in front of a group.”

I told the class a story.

Lion was hunting for something to eat when he spied Brother Goat standing on top of a big rock.  Brother Goat was chewing grass that grew between the stones.  He chewed and chewed.  His jaws worked up and down.  Lion came closer to Brother Goat.

Brother Goat saw Lion coming and knew he had no chance to get away.  Goat thought, “I can run away.  But, Lion will catch me and eat me.  I can play dead.  But, Lion will still eat me.  I think I just need to pretend to be brave.”  So, he stayed on top of the rock and kept chewing.  He chewed and chewed and chewed.

Lion came closer.  "What are you eating, Brother Goat," asked Lion.
Brother Goat was scared.  But, he did not let Lion know it.  "I am chewing this rock in order to sharpen my teeth," he said.  "Then I am going to eat you."
Now it was Lion's turn to be afraid.  If Brother Goat was strong enough to chew up and eat a rock, he might be able to eat a lion."  Lion’s heart beat faster.  

He thought, “I can run away.  But, Goat might catch me and eat me.  I can play dead.  But, Goat still might eat me.”  The Lion decided that the only thing to do was to walk away slowly and hope Goat did not see how afraid he was.

"Enjoy your dinner," said Lion.  Then Lion turned.  He walked slowly at first, watching Goat over his shoulder.  As he got further away from Goat, Lion began to run.
Brother Goat just kept chewing as he watched Lion leave.  He shook in fear as he saw Lion run into the woods.  Brother Goat had escaped death.  Then he remembered that sometimes it pays to act brave when you are really afraid.

“What did you learn from the story?” I asked the class and looked right at the girl.
“That it is okay to be afraid, but you can pretend to be brave?” she questioned.
I smiled as all the rest of the students shook their heads up and down in agreement.  

That young girl was one of the first to volunteer to tell a story to the group.  She was afraid, but she pretended to be brave.  She told her story well and took a great step that day on her path to becoming a storyteller.

This story was adapted by Dr. Mike Lockett from an early American story, 'Buh Goat Eats Rock' by C. Jones on Negro Myths from the Georgia Coast, 1888. 

Dr. Mike Lockett has been sharing stories with audiences for over forty years. He lives in Normal, Illinois, and because of that, he is called the Normal Storyteller. Dr. Lockett has worked in every single facet of education you can imagine. He's done everything from office work to principal.His life has been spent in education.
These days he travels all over the United States and Asia performing for intergenerational audiences.

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