Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Unexpectedly Revealed

Something very intriguing happened at our study on Sunday. We are going to be exploring narrative theology (studying & interpreting God & Scripture through the lens of "the Great Story"). And so one of the things the pastor asked each of us to do was bring an object as a representation of a story to introduce ourselves, and to show the object and tell the story.

And so I brought my object. And I explained why I'd chosen it and why what it represented was important to me.

Which isn't a story.

I've always claimed - and up until now, I've believed - that "everyone has a story to tell." But I've started questioning that idea.

I really do believe that people - most people, anyway - when they're communicating, they do so primarily by sharing stories. But somehow I don't seem to do that.

I'm not sure what that says about me.

Maybe that's why I don't like writing. I like talking about stories, but it's kind of hard to do that if you don't have someone to talk with. (Authors are particularly nice for those sorts of conversations.)

And I'm not sure what (if anything?) I should do about this. It feels like I'm not just weird, but deficient, somehow. Maybe if I could learn to tell stories more easily, I wouldn't hate writing so much. And maybe that would help me teach my students more effectively.

But I'm not sure it's worth the effort of doing anything about it.

Image thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/assbach/


Mark said...

Some of the worst things I have ever done in my life were out of the sincere belief that I needed a story.

I don't think everyone has a story to tell. I think to presume so is a bit egocentric. When we say such a thing, and a person looks at him/herself and thinks "well, I don't have a story," that can be a dangerous thing.

I grew up in a stable home, on a quaint farm in a small town. My parents were not divorced. They didn't abuse me. My parents were well-adjusted and kind to me. I learned to have a work ethic. I learned to respect others. I did well in school. My life was low-fat vanilla yogurt.

To me, this meant I didn't have a story.

Everyone else with a "story" had some trauma they endured which gave their life some kind of specialness. Parents were divorced, cancer had been survived, fear ruled the household, or the world had been traveled. I had none of that.

So at about age 19 I began this horrid, self-destructive pursuit of a story. I behaved in a way which destroyed much of what my family had tried to build in me. I turned to drugs and alcohol out of the twisted sense that being in recovery someday would give me a story. I had no reason to do any of this, other than I felt my life was supposed to have a story. And, now it does. And the collateral damage was not worth it.

English teachers (of which I am one) are quick to claim that every student has a story. I disagree. Some of us are blessed with mundane, comfortable lives with people who love us and merciful absence of trauma. That certainly does not make a "story" like what we English teachers sometimes fish for, but it is in its own way a beautiful, boring, and precious thing.

Clix said...

Was it Tolstoy or Dostoevsky who said that all happy families are happy in the same way? I think it was one of the Russians, but I'm afraid my background in literature is still somewhat weak.

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