Being on the administrative team at the Center for Digital Storytelling, my storytelling skills are rarely called upon. My creativity and relatability are spent on things like website maintenance and email exchange – tasks which aren't storytelling as much as they are conveying information.
Of course, my initial introduction to and love for the Center for Digital Storytelling was based on storytelling – not necessarily because I consider myself a great storyteller, but because I am a listener and an appreciator of story. In fact, for a long time I considered myself to be not a great storyteller at all. I stutter my way through sentences; I forget punchlines and other important details; I crack myself up thinking about the funny parts before I get to actually telling them.
When I found out that all Center for Digital Storytelling staff would be creating digital stories at our last national staff retreat, I was both excited and a bit terrified. I have teased my colleagues – jokingly, but with a pinch of truth – that they can be an intimidating crowd to work with; all except for me have been masterfully facilitating storytelling processes for years. They never cease to blow me away with their own stories, their passion for story, and the heart with which they guide others through the telling of story. I can only hope that someday I'll be able to harness the power of story as skillfully as my colleagues do.
I spent days racking my brain, trying to think of a story from my own life that I could bring to our staff story circle. I grew discouraged, realizing how fragmented the memories in my young brain are. Without having been asked a very specific question to prompt a memory recall, I felt like I was swimming deeper and deeper into the murky, unclear depths of my life experience.
I started to suspect that my story would be about how terrible I am at remembering stories. How I don't necessarily remember a series of events – a beginning, a middle, and an end – that fuse together into a compelling story, but that I instead remember a landscape, a sensory experience, an expression on someone's face, or the emotions caused by an event. This is why I've always been drawn to writing haikus; it's easy for me to feel satisfied by a glimpse into a memory when I can fit it inside the tidy container of seventeen syllables.
But then, a memory emerged. True to form, my brain withheld a number of details from the memory. I went with it anyway. Sometimes, the details aren't the point.