Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

2.03.2010

Thoughts on Being a Librarian

All I ever wanted was to sing to Him. That's His doing, isn't it? He gave me that longing - then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to serve Him with music, why implant the desire, like a lust in my body, then deny me the talent? Go on, tell me! Speak for Him!
--Salieri in the movie Amadeus

I notice a lot of what I share online could be said to be about stories, whether that be book reviews, popular culture references to movies, comics, and TV, or the like. Other times I share thoughts about the concept of stories. For instance here, here, here, and here. The appeal of Dungeons & Dragons for me is the group storytelling aspect. And I spend a lot of my professional life dwelling on stories of one type or another, both consuming them myself and connecting others with them. Despite all of that, I don't have much of a desire to tell my own stories.

I consider myself a good writer, but an analytical one. I write excellent research papers and critical analysis. In college, it was with a mix of embarrassment and pride that I realized I'd become that annoying guy whose papers are always read to the class as an example of how the assignment should have been done. I'm regularly complimented on my emails and book reviews. And as examples like this post attest, I enjoy articulating my thoughts in writing. But I'm not a storyteller. That just doesn't seem to be the way my mind works. Not just in writing, but in conversation as well. I suppose I could work to develop the skills necessary to tell effective tales, but it's not my natural inclination and I don't think I'd ever excel at it. My talent lies elsewhere. But I don't say this with a sense of regret, I just know that's who I am. I appreciate stories but I don't create them.

But analytical writing has a rather minor impact on the world; logical arguments are one of the least important ways of reaching people. As an educator, I think the most effective way to teach something--the most effective way to change someone, either their knowledge or beliefs--is experience. Most of the time it's not possible to share experiences with people, however, and the next most effective way is through simulated experiences. And the most basic way to simulate an experience is to get someone emotionally wrapped up in the tale of an experience. To personally experience a story.

So while I don't feel it's my place to create or tell stories, I believe in their importance and I'm glad to have a job working with them. One that makes sense for me and who I am. It's not my aspiration to be a storyteller, because I feel I've found my place as a storypusher.

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