People craft, collect and share stories for all sorts of reasons. To create reflections of themselves that haven’t previously existed. To imagine worlds where anything is possible.
My grandmother Ines told funny stories about working on a farm and living in Amasa to experience and share joy with others. My mother Judy told stories about the farm to establish herself as a Puotinen and to honor the family that had nurtured and supported her. I tell stories to stay connected, to not forget the spaces and people who have helped shape me and to engage in the difficult work of figuring out the best ways to contribute to the legacy of past generations.
I also tell stories because I am compelled to do so. I use the process of collecting and crafting stories, and the deep engagement that that requires, to make sense of who I have been/am becoming and of my relationship to others and the larger world. And I use that process to pay attention to and take seriously the lives of the people in my stories.
I discuss how the storytelling process enabled me to connect with my family in new ways.
Why tell stories? Some Answers
The following is an ever-expanding list of answers to the question of why we tell stories. As I encounter answers, I will add them here.
- To be known, understood and remembered (Lisa Bonchek Adams)
- To explore the dignity in a wide range of others (Andrew Solomon)
- To create reflections of ourselves that haven’t existed before (Junot Diaz)
- To mark an occasion (Sara Puotinen)