A few posts back on this blog, you heard me talk about #reverb10, an annual, month-long online reflection project. Here's a bit more about it, from the website:
Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. With Reverb 10 - and the 31 prompts our authors have created for you - you'll have support on your journey.You can commit and start at any time and respond to the prompts in any way you wish - this project is designed for you to discover what needs discovering, however's best for you.
The organizers asked me to contribute one of the month's reflection prompts, and today my prompt goes live for several thousand bloggers and writers to consider. Even if you didn't participate in #reverb10, I think it's a pretty fascinating question to ponder in general, and I welcome your thoughts and responses in the comments section.
December 31 – Core Story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)
Here is what you must know about me: I believe in stories.
I believe they have the power to shape us, to change us, to heal us, to teach us, to connect us. And more.
There are other things that I believe in powerfully and passionately, too--the capacity for faith is a gift that has been alive in me my whole life, manifesting itself differently as I've grown and come to understand it more. (And it took a number of years for me to fully grasp that the things I believe in most won't always resonate or matter in the same way to others, and that that's okay.) But when I attempt to boil everything down to its simplest, most uncomplicated form, over and over, I come back to stories. Stories are universal. Stories are at the core of everything. Stories matter because they help us catalog and clarify our lives and experiences. Stories matter because we matter: I believe stories teach us how to be human--and how to be better humans, more fully human, even. And really, what is more important than that?
It's rare that a week goes by when I don't tell someone (sometimes shyly, sometimes bursting with pride) that I have my dream job. Because as an editor of children's and young adult books, I work with others who believe as I do, that stories matter enormously--and that they matter first and perhaps most, when we are becoming: when we are small children, and then bigger children; and when we are in the awkward stage between being children and being teenagers; and when we are teenagers, and then bigger teenagers; and even when we are in the awkward stage between being teenagers and being adults. In all of those phases, we are becoming the sort of humans we will be, at our core, for the rest of always. And if the stories that I help nurture and produce can ultimately interject more compassion, more hope, more truth into the core of many (or even a few) human beings--then I have more than "a dream job," I have an immensely privileged life.
But the sharing of stories belongs to everyone. And the truth is, we are always becoming, and not only as children or young adults. Because we all need to tell our stories, and we all need to hear stories, too. The stories change, we change--but the need for stories, for narratives by which to guide and inspire and challenge one another, I think that's a constant. Or at least it is for me.
I didn't participate in #reverb10 as much as I intended to this past month.Well...no. Correction. I didn't blog or tweet public responses to the posts as much as I intended to. I pondered each prompt, mulling some over for days internally, discussing others with friends in-person. Most of all, though, I found myself wanting to speak/write less and listen more. And I think that's okay, that there are times to speak and times to be silent and both build us--and our own stories--up in different ways. Here is what I did more than I expected to this past month, though: I kept an open search on the #reverb10 hashtag all month long and clicked link after link after link each day, reading the open-hearted sharing of so many strangers. And I'm more human because of each link, because of those stories. I hope you are, too.
Stories connect us in remarkable ways; the internet connects us in remarkable ways, too. And so perhaps it's no wonder that #reverb10 was powerful for its participants: it did something exponential within and among its participants. And I'm the polar opposite of a math whiz, but if I recall, the mathematical meaning of exponents is that you raise one element to the power of another element. And so...I suspect that stories raised to the power of connectivity equal community, whether fleeting or permanent. And stories raised to the power of connectivity create, or at least help to uncover, meaning. Stories raised to the power of connectivity reveal something beautifully elemental, a sense of ourselves in relationship to the world and its people around us.
The creation and sharing of stories: Something so simple becomes exponential in the most mind-boggling of ways, so quickly: simply by living, the possibility opens up for stories, and for the resulting recognition and discovery and connectivity and potential and inspiration and power. And in examining stories, we discover ourselves, we discover our humanity, and the depths are endless. How amazing. How beautiful.
This, then, is the central story at the core of me: I believe in stories. I believe in them with all my heart. And I will never stop wanting to hear more of them.