Communities & storytelling. I’m not sure how the two link together for me, perhaps something will come out over this writing… I thought a lot about the idea of a community based in the past versus one in the present / future. My family (i.e. my cousins) are to me one of those communities of the past, based in the past. We don’t really communicate now. If we exchange an email per year, that’s about our average. But then, when I come to visit once a year – spending perhaps a day with them – it seems as though I’d never left, we are caught up on each other’s lives within minutes, and “everything’s the same”.
Funny how I have much more to say to strangers in programme, not only sharing my story and hearing theirs but – more importantly – sharing the present, ESH, and hope for the future. On one hand it’s logical, because they are strangers when I meet them we must exchange our stories to get to know one another, and this isn’t necessary with my family: we do know each other (on a deeper, much more unarticulated level). But why it is that we don’t exchange our present, our future hope, and any ESH in my family… I don’t know, and I think we’re all the poorer for it.
When it comes to storytelling, I guess it’s making myself vulnerable. I don’t have my story thought out before I start telling it. Every time I tell it, something new comes out – I need to hear myself say it to know what I’m going to say. This kind of vulnerability is fine before strangers and those I know only in programme, because they have similar experiences and can relate, therefore I am safe. I’m no worse than they, or better. I wouldn’t share vulnerability with my family, because a) there is a history, and b) there is a future. Because it’s easy to sever relationships that are based only on shared experience… they are “head” relationships, not “heart” relationships. I’m not saying that some people in programme don’t become “heart” friends, they do and then the situation is so much deeper, but as a group of programme people it’s easy to get out of a situation my unguarded storytelling might have got me into. But I’m stuck with my family. If I disclose something, it will be remembered (if I share at a meeting, it might or might not be remembered because people aren’t listening to ME so much as they are listening for clues relating to THEMSELVES).
Well so I guess I have found the relation between communities and storytelling, for me. I tell my story in many ways, emphasising many different things, adapting it to the audience. Life experience is so rich that I find I can tell the same story to different people in such different ways that they bear little resemblance, yet I’m not lying. But, I can’t seem to tell a story about me and be completely guarded. Opening my mouth to talk about myself always means disclosing something unintentionally. Maybe that’s just me. The more I tell a story the more I learn about it, i.e. the way I felt about it, because until I say it I often don’t even know. In my head, I look back at my life and my stories in a very detached, unemotional way – they are in the past and I don’t live there. I don’t get sad when I think about bad things in the past, for example. They are just facts. To find out my emotions, even my emotions at the time (back then) I often need to hear the story, told by myself.