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viewpoint

Let us grow: haha lettuce

| Thursday, April 26, 2018

We can understand ourselves better the more we tell our story and the more we listen to the stories of others. I am not writing about reporting every little thing daily — e.g., I went to three classes today, did homework, ate dinner, etc. — rather I am focused more on how we interact with those around us. How does this lead us to knowing ourselves better? I’m not going to say it’s by obsessively talking about ourselves — that can just turn into an obnoxious one-sided conversation, no? — but by constantly updating who we think we are in relation to ourselves and others.

Being an aspiring engineer, I never thought much for the common narratives that flood social media because they all seemed so pointless, e.g. people posting about something they did, food they ate, a cute dog they saw – I actually don’t mind those posts too much – etc.

But there is something deeper that can be said about those stories of experience, those of personal struggle, those of deep connections or those of dramatic realizations of who we are called to be. In these stories, there is often a theme of change, a change in understanding, a change in inner relationship, etc. Now if we all be honest, I think we can all agree that each of us is always changing or growing in some sense — I reluctantly use “growing” because change can also come through pruning too: John 15:2. But, we are all having a human experience; we are growing into ourselves.

When we tell our authentic stories about our growth, we are not only acknowledging that we are not constant beings, but we are also giving someone else the opportunity to empathize, to see our experiences through us in the stories we tell; in a sense, to grow with us. I am not saying to internalize other people’s experiences and make them your own, since we can never experience what someone else goes through, but I am saying that our stories are continually being updated as we grow into them.

On the New Orleans Pilgrimage, we heard many stories of personal hardships, but those stories will always be simply something to pass the time, unless we take the time to reflect on how the stories of others affect the story of ourselves. There are lessons to be learned about ourselves in every story. A pointless story has no meaningful ending. Each time we tell a story, we know where it will end up to communicate some meaning. The same story can told differently to express convey something else.

So what am I trying to say? I think I can wrap it all up with the word — listen. Listen to how people have reflected on their lives, listen to how the master storytellers can convey such truth in an interesting way, listen as you grow in relationship with others, listen to the evolution of your own story, listen to what your heart yearns for. Or not: you don’t have to listen to yourself, you know.

You can reach James Weitzel at [email protected] 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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