30 Years of Storytelling

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Autumn Leaves in Fremont, Seattle, WA

I turned 30 at the end of September. The other day I was reflecting on the two year anniversary of first setting foot in Seattle in October 2014. In July 2015 I packed up my entire life, including two orange furry purr balls and drove out here, leaving behind everything I had ever known and called home.

I’ve been reflecting on why I came out here, and what I’m trying to do. I am working on my PhD, and the dissertation is slowly shifting in its nature and in its focus the more I ease into my understandings of research, colonization, positionality and power, and determining the kind of academic I want to be.

It is shifting toward historical preservation of conflict in Guatemala, and supporting community efforts to preserve thier own history. Reading over old blog posts about my family history as I reflect on my move out here, and my birthday, I am reminded why I even started this blog — and my dissertation research makes so much sense.

When I presented in class the other day, my inspiration of Anne Frank and a connection with my research, someone in my class commented how it is clear that a childhood passion and interest can influence our work as adults. We discussed how storytelling is done by different people for different reasons, and that people value storytelling in different ways.

It’s little things like this that help me feel comforted on my path. When I work on three separate tasks the other day, and they are all related, superficially and at the root, I am grateful.

Today, I was reading a book for Anthropology class called Research as Resistance, and there is a chapter on storytelling as a methodology. I was nearly brought to tears as I read about traditions of oral story telling because of how familiar it sounded and how much it felt like home. I thought about my dad and all of the family history and mythologies he has passed along to me. I feel so deeply and passionately about listening to people’s stories and preserving them and passing them along, and sharing them. Sometimes just absorbing and spending time and being together.

I want to hear stories that have been silenced. I think of the unspoken and silenced stories in my own family, in my country, and around the world.

I wonder, why am I doing what I do? How will I have an impact on the world? Where will I end up? How will people remember me?

Reading my old posts I remind myself…

“Looking back at family history, one can see that entire lives are left to simply be a name on a piece of paper, in a long list of others, with a date of birth, marriage, and death. However, it is in each other, that we continue to live.”

Through stories, and in each other. It is in each other that we continue to live. Ahh, yes! I know this! Stories…passing down the intangible. Relationships and the people you meet and share with. The stories that you share and listen to and absorb. Yes. Yes. It is through each other that we continue to live.

I often say to people that if it feels like a small world because you have overlapping and interlocking paths between people and communities and colleagues, you are probably in the right place. I feel that more and more every day. Some days are difficult and challenging, and lots of days I doubt myself, but I am grateful for being able to almost always see the silver lining pretty quickly. I am grateful to wake up every morning and have another day to keep trying.

I am trying to be open to consider the many opportunities that may present themselves, and the paths that may and do open before me. I am grateful for friends in my life, and the people who believe in me and support me.

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