The Space Between Stories

John O’Brien tweeted out this link over the weekend, and I’ve read it multiple times since then.  (I’d encourage you to read his whole post for some of my references to make sense). The author’s words seem to be taken directly from my own skull:

“Sometimes I feel intense nostalgia for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Superbowl was important, in which the world’s greatest democracy was bringing democracy to the world, in which science was going to make life better and better. Life made sense.”

We write personally quite a bit here, and it seems in most all of my posts, I’m reflecting on some bygone memory.  You’ll recall my love letter to the Eastside from the past Spring.  Perhaps it’s because, as the author writes, that in the mythical Then of our lives, “life made sense.”  Perhaps that’s so.

What to make of this sense-making?  Did life really make more sense in Then-time, or did we float on in a bubble of the unknown?  I’d argue that it’s probably the latter, at least in my case.  He continues that we thought if we read the newspapers, went to college and stayed away from Bad Things, we’d be pretty much okay, set for life, even.  But soon, as the wisdom of time catches up with all of us, “that story has eroded at an accelerating rate.”

Let’s remember while the story gets eroded about soda pop and Superbowls, that the passage of hours, days, and years often paints our memory with a golden sepia tone.  Someone asked once, we’re the Good Ol’ Days really that Good?  And for whom?

I’ve stayed away from most Bad Things as much as I could, and it seems Bad Things still happen to good people.  And good people still do Bad Things.  And Good Things turn out to be pretty Bad Things, and Bad Things don’t seem so bad sometimes, too.  It’s pretty confusing, this life, even as the story of our mythology, our own revered nostalgia erodes daily, too.

It’s why, I think, change is so hard.  It’s hard here, too with the changes we’ve started to unfold in 2013, and what will continue in 2014, to 2015.   It’s much harder for some than others, likely because their memory, their collection of nostalgia reaches farther back than mine- to a time when we didn’t know what we did now.  Tim writes, “They are my mistakes and they are precious to me.”  But we’re not interested in making the same mistakes.  Connie Lyle O’Brien said in Toronto in one of her small groups that she was interested in “making new mistakes.”  I appreciated her confidence when she said this.

an old logo

So I guess, that’s where we are: the space between stories.  In between new pictures that are yet to be taken, new narratives of who we are and what we’re about, and folders filled with photos and calendars of events from 19 years of fun, our own cultural nostalgia.

We’ve read, we’ve studied, we’ve failed, we’ve remodeled ourselves, we’ve talked, we’ve asked, we’ve questioned, we’ve fought, we’ve cried, and we’ve learned that soda pop, even Diet soda pop, still isn’t really good for you at all, and in the grand scheme of things; that the Superbowl isn’t that important either, metaphorically speaking.  This is about more than fun and games.  It’s why we’ve started creating towards something else while working to dismantle previous visions of what was thought we should be doing.  It’s the space between that old logo, a shiny new one, a vision of white vans, and group outings, to a real vision of life, community, and citizenship.

An Inclusive Cincinnati

Creation and destruction, we’ve learned here, are not isolated incidents.  They don’t operate separate of each other.  So, we’ve created a space where people can show up, share stories, hear stories, talk, be known, laugh, have fun if they want to, get serious if they want to.  It’s an invitation.

This week you can join us tomorrow, Tuesday, January 8th for a Connection Gathering in Southeast Cincinnati (Anderson) and Wednesday, January 9th for a Conversation, here at Starfire in Madisonville and all through 2013 and beyond.


Join Us

Sarah recently sent an email about not letting “your worries trump your hopes” when it comes to showing up and trying the new.  That’s our invitation, too.  This isn’t about changing the world, (not yet at least), it’s about changing our own minds about the story we thought we had to buy; the story that told us separate was better, segregated was safer, and people can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t…

We’re in between stories right now, and the sacred space of in between Now and Then can only be filled through each other, in simple ways, and “in such moments we discover our humanity. We come to each other’s aid, human to human. We take care of each other.  In such times, we learn who we really are.”

Candice Jones Peelman