Storytelling at Work
August 15, 2021


Nine months ago (just enough time for a child to be born), I found myself, alone, in the basement of the home I had owned for the past 26 years in Woodstock, New York. It has come to this -- the time to empty it out and get ready for the new owners, nice people from Brooklyn who paid cash and, apparently, had no need for five broken CD players, eight boxes of National Geographic magazines, and more than two and a half decades of stuff that should have long ago been taken to the dump.

The basement was very familiar to me. Very. I had been in it many times before, me the furnace-adjustment guy, the sump-pump dude, the dead mouse finder, the humidifier man, not to mention stasher of too many things that had seen much better days.

Evelyne, God bless her, was in Mexico, Jesse in San Francisco and Mimi in Massachusetts -- our super dog, Chili (such a gooood boy!) gone too soon, which left you know who in the basement poking through boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff that seemed to go on forever.

When I got to the 20th box, I saw something I will never forget, one of those permanently etched-in-the-mind moments that might have made a good hieroglyphic -- something future archeologists would never be able to decipher. There, at the bottom of the box, one filled with missing winter socks, staplers, cassette tapes, paper clips, post-it pads, and instruction manuals from kitchen appliances we no longer owned, was WOLFIE -- one of my kids' favorite puppets -- an oversized, extremely furry puppet who had entertained my kids for what seemed like forever.

"WOLFIE! DUDE! MY MAN!" How did it come to this -- that you would now be sideways at the bottom of a box, 15 years on your own, hearing nothing but footsteps overhead and MAYBE some James Taylor from the living room?

"Wolfie! Wolfie! I am so sorry, bro" -- and with that, I reached in and pulled him out, none the worse for wear, it seemed, just a little bit damp and, from what I could tell, somewhat lonelier than I had remembered him to be. Unable to contain myself, I found that perfect place where a father's hand belongs and held him high overhead so he might breathe and survey the room before the show went on.

My wife and kids were thousands of miles away. My plan for the day was gone. There were no birthday parties upstairs, no birthday hats, no candles, no cake, just me and Wolfie in the basement. Wolfie and me. Just the two of us. I was so glad to see him, as I found my Wolfie voice and performed a 5-minute puppet show, my eyes filling with tears, my voice quavering, the great play of life taking one more turn towards home.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 15, 2021 01:26 PM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.