Stories from Your Life (and meditations on romantic love…)
I have been wondering for months what the hell I’ve gotten myself into and how to engage with something so intimate and something so not my business as your interpersonal relationships. But talking to you has helped me come to grips with this dilemma. Our conversations over the last month have been extraordinary. Because of these conversations, you have been floating around my daily life even more than usual. I hear something, or see something, or think of something and you immediately come to mind. But even though you wash over me as a presence, there are times when I wish that I had recorded our talks so that I could pull you to my side in a more physical way.
This month, for the chapter on interpersonal relationships, I’d like to see you blend your friendships with your love for collecting stories. I would like you to interview four people (feel free to interview more if you like the idea) who you love, care about, or are intrigued by. You may choose old friends or people you want to get to know better. It would be wonderful to interview and record people who you’ve talked to for ages just to see what it’s like when you move from spontaneous conversation to a slightly more purposeful format. And I think one of these interviews should be with your Mom.
There needn’t be specific rules as to how you go about your interviews. You could decide to be dead serious, dead silly, to talk about deeply personal things or to talk about your favorite foods or films. You could talk about the past, present or future. You could ask someone to read your favorite story to you or to sing a song. Whatever is important to you at the time is good. I do think you should decide on some key questions before you begin your interview. It would be nice to begin by asking that person something you’ve always wanted to ask them or something that you’d like to be able to replay in the future. If the conversation meanders and you get completely side tracked, that’s fine. There is no need to share these stories or interviews with anyone if you don’t want to.
I would aim for one interview a week.
Now you have much more experience than I do related to collecting stories and thinking about story telling. But I’ve come across a few beautiful stories or meditations on storytelling over the past few weeks and I’d like you to listen to them. (Can you feel the teacher in me coming out here?) Hopefully you will just enjoy these. And we can include these pieces in our future conversations. Maybe, maybe, maybe you could think about the idea of a “single story” and your family.
What Are The Dangers of a Single Story? By Chimamanda Adichie on the Framing the Story episode of the Ted Radio Hour
Hitchhiking as A Family from Dick Gordon’s The Story program
Terry Gross interview with Maurice Sendak from September 2011. This link takes you to the last 5 minutes of the interview, illustrated by Christoph Neimann. There is a link to the entire interview on the page.
I am going to use this challenge to record some stories from my parents. I have thought about doing this for years and will now get off my butt and do it. At the very least I can immortalize the story of my Mom getting her mouth washed out with soap by her father.
In terms of romantic love, I would like us both to read Elemental Passions by the philosopher Luce Irigaray. I will be sending you a copy of this book soon! Now this book will in no way give you any kind of useful advice about creating, maintaining, or leaving romantic relationships. As a matter of fact, you may find this book way too oblique and even annoying. But I’ve found sections of this book strangely beautiful and I thought we could talk about love and try to untangle what Irigaray is saying together. It’ll be a slightly different interaction between us, but it would certainly make a car ride to western Maryland edifying as well as fun.
Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.