Welcome to The Place Between Stories.
Why visit here, or call it home?
In April 2011 I wrote a blog post entitled ‘The Place Between Stories’. It came partly out of my muddle and frustration over how to respond to well-meant questions like ‘What do you do?’ or ‘What are you working on?’, after I’d left an academic career behind but hadn’t taken up new activities decisively enough to make a satisfactory answer – for me or for the questioner. The muddle was trying to learn to live with, and accept, the condition of no longer having a defined role or purpose, while pestering myself anxiously on a near-daily basis about what the f*ck I was doing with my life. The frustration, one I know is shared by others, was with the whole kitbag of assumptions that lay behind the questions I was being asked: that ‘doing’ or ‘working’ or fitting neatly into a box labelled ‘this’ are the normal, default means by which we must explain and justify our presence in the world.
The post was also a step in my ongoing journey with the Dark Mountain Project. In its deep questioning of the dominant narratives of civilization, and invitation to craft new stories that re-imagine the place of humans within the world as our economic and ecological certainties fall away, Dark Mountain itself opens onto a place between stories, where questions may sit reflectively around a hearth apart from the noisy jostle of answers, and the dying of the old is openly admitted, but the new is not yet, nor easily, nor readily, delivered. The rich metaphor of the mountain imprinted itself in the rocky topography by which I invoked ‘between stories’ as a place where one might find oneself: standing, teetering, stumbling and balancing.
Without my expecting it to, this post struck chords. It brought me into contact with others who had their own experiences to tell of a place between stories. Then, as happens, that initial moment of sounding faded away.
Now, a web of coincidence has drawn me back here, holding out an invitation to explore further, taste the air and share discoveries. The stories I spin out of my past seem all to be about between-ness: never belonging, hovering around hesitant at contrary edges. I keep snagging on the theme of being between stories whenever I cast a slightly desperate, consistency-seeking eye back over my old blog posts. And there is muttering in the zeitgeist that we are all now living an interim in a Great Turning. No longer this, but not yet that. Part caterpillar, part butterfly (part egg, part chrysalis and part corpse too). Taking a leap, and not immediately landing.
So the place between stories is about learning how to live with being in midair. With taking a bold step forward into the unknown and being tripped up by the foot you left behind. With cradling questions and uncertainties in a culture whose dyed-in credos are action, answers and absolutes. With incubation, and with the inner tension of not knowing if a story is always the wisest thing to tell.
Peg or scaffold, upon which to hang. The invitation is to explore and imagine this place freely, but not to settle, build and become complacent. There is no comfort to be had ‘over there’ in the promise of an outcome. This isn’t the anteroom to the next story, the final crank of the Turning, the expectation that all will be well, in the end.
As of July 2013, I have migrated here posts previously housed in other blogs, that make more sense as part of the unfolding between story.
The Place Between Stories is very much open to guest blogs and cross-postings from others, who find that here resonates and would like to share their own experiences of this place. Please feel free to contact me by comment in the first instance.
Welcome to The Place Between Stories.