The Need To Tell Our Stories

It is fundamentally human to do so. Tell our stories that is.

It is social glue — with more than 140 characters or two short paragraphs. It is the way that we share experience. “Tell us about your weekend. What’s been happening with your family? Your job? Your garden? Did you watch last night’s episode?”

Or, it was (I would say is) part of ceremony. “Tell us what you have seen. Tell us of the great beyond.” I can imagine those times sitting round the fire. Listening as if life depended on it.

Ah, there it is — perhaps life depends on it, this telling of our stories, and this listening to others tell their stories. Not just social nicety, though I like that too. Nothing wrong with a passing remark about last nights’ ball game. Not just chit chat, filler before moving to the next moment of isolation. Smile. Check.

Our lives depend on the stories we tell ourselves and each other. It takes friends, company, good listeners, and good challengers to help make sense of them. I’m introverted enough to not always want to be out loud. But at some point, our lives our meant to be lived in some community. It is where sense-making is tested, where systems of imagination scale.

In ten days I will be hosting The Circle Way Practicum with a friend and colleague that I really respect — Amanda Fenton. Together we will host a group of 22 people over six days to develop the ability and recall the memory of telling our stories. We will work in large group and in smaller groups of sixish. We will invoke with others a basic process for listening, for presensing, for letting go, and for calling forth — story. “What’s it like to be you? What has your attention? What is important to you? Is there a crossroads you feel you are at?”

With minimal structure, a clear purpose, a real curiosity, and the invocation of story, I believe we can change the world. Grow it back to one that practices engagement and story, evolving the edges of who we are and what we dream possible.

Thank you Charles LaFond, a great story inviter and teller, for inspiring this post.

Today’s Society

Today's Society

I saw this yesterday on Chris Corrigan‘s Facebook post. Chris posted the simple words, “We are all connected.” I love the invitation and challenge he offers.

The best humor, I find, is the stuff that is true, and that shows the absurd. How absurd to think of being comfortable on the top end of the boat when the back of it is close to going under. How absurd to distance ourselves from what is so close. How absurd to not see the grand body of water that they are about to sink in. How absurd to deny connection.

I don’t think it is about everything connected in every way. But I do think that connection is a disposition. It’s not just an airy fairy mission statement. It’s an attitude and expectation. It is a red thread in the story. That’s different than the disposition (intended or unintended), attitude, red thread, and story of separation, AND, the behavior, practices, and policies that separation creates.

Crossing Over

There is a kind of poetry contest happening on the Open Space listserve, now through June 21st. My friend Jeff Aitken is inviting it. It’s an annual thing. It’s playful and serious. It names a Poet Laureate each year.

I saw the announcement for the theme yesterday. It is Crossing Over, and was invitation to express a moment of crossing over from one understanding to another. This is, after all, often what is accomplished in the process of Open Space Technology.

The rules were simple. No more than 33 words. Can be any form. Rhymes or not. Doesn’t have to be a direct experience from Open Space.

I couldn’t help myself. I wanted in! I let it come out of me, really in one breath. Then edited slightly. I’ve seen this kind of pain, and thankfully, crossing over, in myself, in individuals, and in groups of people working together.

Here’s what I came up with.

It was obvious there was pain. 
Feelings hurt. Wounds infected. 
Hopes, dwindling relentlessly over the horizon called “not today.”
It was the story underneath, finally excavated,
that began to change everything.