Why Tell Me…
Happiness is only real when shared.Chris McCandless (Into the Wild)
Working as camp store manager in the Many Glacier Valley of Glacier National Park, Montana, I literally lived the dream.
An idealistic young adult just out of college, I was torn between the decision to settle into a career or take my chances on seeing what the world had to offer. After working eight months as a manager at Festival Foods (to pay off my college loans from UW-Oshkosh), my heart pulled at me to take the leap into the unknown.
I left my secure job, briefly backpacked the South American country of Colombia with some of my best friends, and packed up my green ’99 Toyota Camry with all of my worldly possessions setting off for Montana.
I was on my own, but I loved every bit of it. Driving into Glacier National Park for the first time, I winded along cliffside roads from East Glacier to Two Medicine to St. Mary’s to Babb and to Many Glacier and Swiftcurrent.
It was all a shock for me.
Bears- Grizzly and Brown. I stopped counting at 34 during week one there!
Bighorn Sheep licking antifreeze from parking lots.
Moose families enjoying evening stops at Fishercap Lake.
Mountain Goats jumping their way to impossible locations on cliff faces.
A wolverine scampering across a snowfield.
A mountain lion greeting me at my cabin door late one night.
Majestic mountain views from atop a number of peaks.
And the list goes on. It was honestly magical.
I could carry on telling everyone about my experience and what it is like there, but that can get quite dull. It doesn’t really allow for others to take anything more than a passing interest in my time there.
When I reflect on my time in Glacier, I realize that I and others gain far more when I show them what I’m talking about. Sometimes it is simply a well-timed story where I can let others decide what to believe. However, it’s far better when I can show and share my experience.
My favorite memories from my time spent in Glacier are the ones where I was able to take my loved ones along with me. I didn’t have to tell them what to think. We were just able to share the experience together and walk away with our individual understandings of the place.
That doesn’t mean to say we should NEVER tell something to someone. There are certainly times where telling is appropriate, but just as often we need to show our listeners or readers the way instead.
Jerry Jenkins, in his post “Show, Don’t Tell: What You Need to Know,” writes “The theater of the reader’s mind is more powerful than anything Hollywood can put on the screen.” If we can harness this power in our own writing, we will be sure to take our readers on a meaningful journey that may just change their lives. That’s the hope anyway!
Follow the link provided above to see specific examples of what Showing vs. Telling looks like in our writing!
When You Can Show Me?