Why do we talk about our experiences?
Is it so our friends can catch up on our life? (does such storytelling mean we buy into the idea that we are irrevocably chained to the influence of our own histories?)
Is it so we can impress the people around us?
Do we tell stories to convince ourselves that our lives are exciting, are valuable, are worth it?
The process of devising a story of our life --or even of an episode of our life-- enables us to evaluate, consider, frame, and even judge our experiences. And yet, when we have written the story, the memories of experience crystallize into narratives which only partially restate the full truth.
To tell a story is often to close the seal on the mylar packages of our experiences before handing them out for consumption. Count the calories carefully.
Yesterday, my crazy friend Constantinos wrote me an email:
Well, we had an interesting road trip all together.
This is the stage I'm at when it comes to most of my experiences over the last six months. I have banks of photographs ready to go, but I'm not yet able/willing to tell the story of many of my most interesting experiences. My time in Salzburg, for example, or my Rhodes interview.
Sometimes, however, friends drag the details out of you. Constantinos writes:
I talked this way this last night with my parents when they wanted me to know about my recent trip to the Boston area for eNarrative 6. They were disappointed. They didn't really want to know what I did and what happened to me. They wanted interpretation. They wanted what Diane Greco talked about during the session on Sunday: Emotional truth.
They wanted a story.
Constantinos delivers a good story:
Him, myself and 3 girls in an overloaded/overseated vehicle of love with no insurance, no brakes (you could literally hear the brake pads rubbing up against the discs) and a king-size bed in the back that was doubling up as seating space for the extra people (curtains fully extended during drives onmotorway to prevent the police from spotting the extra cargo).
It was a miracle how we survived the drive, especially considering that we drove up and down an unsealed mountain road and camped in the middle of nowhere next to a river...
I thought I had seen it all in Australia but cat-sized white spiders were a first, I must admit...
There we were, enjoying the nature in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest anti-venom stockist when a gigantic eight-legged creation of nightmares gently climbed over my foot...
What followed upset several inhabitants of this otherwise wonderful nature reserve.
Needless to say, we slept with the tents and sleeping bags fully zipped up that night.
But that was not all... Another spider managed to sneak into my tent (of course!) and nested right above my head.
The wakeup was pretty instant. The others who were already up, said that they saw the walls of the tent expanding and bending and a torch being flashed around all over the place (I was attempting to squash it).
Australian nature? No thanks!
On a good note, we did have a lengthy one-to-one with the world's dullest Koala which we almost ran over.
We got off the car, stood there and watched it sit in the middle of the road and do absolutely nothing... For 20 minutes...
Perhaps they die sitting...
[....]several more paragraphs of story[....]
For now, it's back to work to try to get my last paper finished...
Do I really know what went on during his trip? Do I really want to know every detail? Not really, but it's nice to hear from friends, and it's even nicer to hear that interesting, enjoyable, and funny things are happening to them. Most of all, it's a reminder that (1) Constantine is in good spirits, and (2) he's still the crazy, weird, interesting, and fun guy I met in Salzburg last September (speaking of which, I should probably tell *that* story sometime), and (3) he's back to normal life, if anything can be considered normal for Constantinos Mantratzis.