Why Are We Fascinated by Each Others Stories? by Amy DeRosia

CC Photo by Dylan Lunder

A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.
— Flannery O'Connor

I went to a live storytelling event called All Y'all last Friday night. The topic, "Omg" described as "personal encounters with faith, finding and losing God, and eye-opening encounters with the incomprehensible," made me a little unsure of how the night was going to go. God and religion can be a polarizing topic- especially around here.

The opposite of what I expected happened. Storytellers shared interesting experiences. Others listened with respect and openness. The venue was packed full of people and laughing and cheering and almost sacred, still moments.

I love events like All Y'all because they remind me that our stories matter. Tales that may not be covered by the media or noticed by most people. But that doesn't make them any less interesting or important. When we hear an ordinary, local person sharing a story with our accent and about familiar places, we see a bit of ourselves.

Over the past couple of years I've been curious about our identity as a city.  The answer has usually been distilled down into smaller, more simple pieces. Our collective story seems to be more about creating ways for people to share experiences with each other. 

Here are a few ways we can incorporate storytelling into our lives:

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou

Have the courage to share your own true stories.

Get on an actual stage if you can or sit across the table from a real person. Connection happens the most naturally in the same room. But there are many ways to tell stories- art, music, a photo, a project, or even social media.

So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfold quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.
— Sylvia Plath

Listen to the stories of those around you-especially if they aren't similar to yours.

Social media often reminds us of how different we are than so many of the people around us. But it is easy to only spend time with people who look and think like us. When life experiences or belief systems don't match, there can be some uncomfortable moments. We can support each other despite our differences.

Allowing someone to share a real experience they've had and feel supported is an important skill to develop. We all deserve to feel seen and heard.

One of my favorite examples of this is Story Corps. This video made me want to go interview my grandmother immediately:

Devote yourself to your community around you. Devote yourself to creating something that gives purpose and meaning.
— Mitch Albom

Create opportunities for people to voice and experience each others stories.

If you have a venue or an idea, I want to encourage you to make the event happen. When you organize opportunities for connection, you are an artist. This could be a festival, art show, concert, dinner party, service project, or simply introducing friends to each other. 

We can also contribute by showing appreciation for these events and experiences we love. Ask if there is a way you can help.

All of us have stories worth sharing. When we listen to each other and create spaces of belonging, we can shape the world around us. 

What is a story that has inspired you lately? Let me know in the comments.

Why Curiosity Is More Realistic Than Clarity by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by Zorah Olivia

Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.
— Tony Schwartz

In school we were taught to get the correct answers, fill in blanks, and follow checklists. But, in real life, success rarely comes in a straight line. Attempting to affect positive change in the world around us or our own lives can be frustrating when you don’t know where to start.

Many of us waste too much time searching for the next step to appear on a pre-defined path to get us where we want to go. I remember moving back to Shreveport and thinking that there was a group of people like me hanging out somewhere. Finding those friends was my key to loving this city. I was wrong. Getting involved with what was already happening here, creating what I wished existed, and showing up to events even when I was uncomfortable was how I found like-minded friends. They were definitely not all in one place. And I enjoy having lots of different friends more than one group anyway.

We look for rigid absolutes where there aren’t any. When change is constant, you have to use whatever you’ve got in front of you. That tool might not look like a clear answer but a resource, a problem, or a question instead.

Living the Questions

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
— Rainer Maria Rilke

Questions bring us to the edge of what we know. But they can make everyone uncomfortable. We often have a hard time sitting with uncertainty.  

Most of my ideas or breakthroughs start with questions. This blog started with the question, “What does it look like to live a big life in a small city?”  People ask me in a variety of ways to answer the above question with certainty. But there is not one right way to thrive where you are.  Thriving is a mindset and something to explore every day.

A Shift Toward Curiosity

Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times- a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

When you get rid of prescriptive solutions to problems, you need a new framework to stay grounded and move forward. More than expertise or passion, curiosity is a virtue worth cultivating.

Curiosity gives you permission to create, explore, and learn as you go. You can be enthusiastic and try things that might not work.  Diving into a problem is not only empowering but more effective.

Ideas are only perfect in your head. When you have experiences and real information, you are much closer to succeeding at your goal.

This high school teacher, Ramsey Musallam, does a wonderful job making Chemistry compelling to his students. But he didn’t always teach like this. He made a conscious choice to keep class interesting.

Asking questions, noticing the world around us, and experimenting with our ideas are wonderful learning opportunities. We can transform our daily lives by staying curious.

What are some small ways you cultivate curiousity?