Most anyone I know will confirm that I love telling stories. I stew on and re-tell anecdotes, and given enough of them on a given topic string them together into theories – theories of organization, models to understand and change the world. I sometimes forget that I’ve told you a particular story before, and tell it again – sorry about that
I’m a big fan of the CBC’s annual Massey Lectures, and one of my favourites is Thomas King’s “The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative” from 2003. In it, King tells us as a sort of refrain or chorus that “the truth about stories is that’s all we are.” It’s one of those lines that gets under your skin, that sticks with you. It’s stuck with me for over a decade.
He closes one of the stories he tells in the lectures as such:
Take Charm’s story, for instance. It’s yours. Do with it what you will. Tell it to friends. Turn it into a television movie. Forget it. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You’ve heard it now.
This is we tell stories – in the hopes of sharing things we’ve learned, of giving another person data to “life their life differently” – whether by choosing to take a particular story into account, or to not do so. We tell stories in the hopes that we’ll help others make better mistakes. Or at least, different ones.
(As an aside, this year’s Massey Lecturer will be Margaret Macmillan, a historian whose work I’ve long admired. I’m looking forward to listening to it – listening to the CBC keeps me from getting too homesick.)
I’ve been trying to write more lately, and one metric I’ve been using is that if I tell a story more than three times, I should blog about it. So far this has resulted in dozens of drafts strewn across WordPress, Trello, and Google Drive, but I found myself telling people my idea that if you tell a story three times you should blog it… at least three times, so here we are.
Some of the stories I am hoping to tell this year:
- finishing my series of posts on undermanagement in tech
- magical thinking and time
- “Fuck Yes” But No
- on coping with finding out that one’s friend is an abuser
- how pair programming is like piloting a Jaeger in Pacific Rim
- revisiting Naomi Klein’s No Logo in the context of the Gig Economy
- how impostor syndrome is a perfectly rational outcome of being called an impostor all the time
Here’s to a 2015 full of more stories