Spaces of Storytelling

Here’s the child in me saying, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if there existed a huge pot which contained stories of people’s lives? Whenever we need a dose of sympathy or a jolt of inspiration, we could pull out a letter written by someone who has been through it all.” In reality, ready-made answers are nowhere to be found.

At some point in our lives, we reach a dead end. An ugly brick wall bars us from moving forward and it goes against our better judgement to trace our steps backward.

These painful experiences cannot be communicated easily to another person. A lover of books, perhaps, may find consolation by disappearing into another world altogether.

One may be lucky enough to have a circle of friends or family members who are willing to listen patiently and they try to understand our predicament.

Quick-fixes to problems, in this age of super-glue (bless the soul who invented it) and super-fast planes seem tempting. The social media, if used without caution, with its instant “like” and “favourite” buttons, tells us that we are leading fantastic lives. Therein lies the snare.

But since the social media has become an integral part of our lives, why shouldn’t we use it instead as a platform for meaningful exchange? Browsing through blogs in fact is a rewarding experience. The themes are not new. The perspectives are. Exactly what is needed to come to terms with the uniqueness of our own situation.

Our ancestors never had the chance to tell their stories like we are sharing them. It is very likely that we will get affected by the narratives of people living in different pockets of the world.

Six years of being away from home has taught me that there is no shortcut to learning from my mistakes. Sometimes our own mistakes or somebody else’s can land us in an inherently dark place where we cannot see the exit. It is a lonely and vulnerable place. A hand reaches out to help us. We refuse the offer.

For me, the recovery process has involved making an effort to open my mind and ears to people and their narratives. It is so easy for such stories to get lost. Although meaningful, they do not make it to the mainstream media. Perhaps, rightly so, because it is difficult to accommodate as well as share millions of perspectives, opinions and life-experiences.

We need a space, where we can share the things which affect us without any fear, or hesitation. Alternative and creative platforms of dialogue. Like a small theatre group where each actor comes forward to enact his/her story. There is an empowerment that comes from telling our own story to the world in our own peculiar way.

COMMOTION is providing this opportunity for us to come forward with our stories and to blog about our quirky learning experiences. Here’s to storytelling, an art form that tickles the imagination and brings people together.

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Author: Matti Syiem, JNU
Renault Estafette Bookshop
Photograph: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
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