The allure of stories we forget are stories

Dear President Trump,

Story telling fascinates me. Who is telling which part of which story to whom? When, where, and how are they choosing to tell it, and most importantly why are they telling it? Is there truth in the story or is it made up out of whole cloth? There are lots of stories swirling around, many of which will be quickly disavowed and another story line quickly tossed out to see if it gets better traction. Lots of stories. One of the important questions for us is whether there will be any awareness what we are hearing are stories and not objective, dispassionate firsthand accounts where all elements are truth with a capital “T?” Another important question is whether the storytellers will remember the stories they are telling are stories.

Then there are the listeners, the parsers of the stories. Are we aware we hear stories in particular ways, filtering the elements through our perspectives and histories, doing our gut checks on believability from our own personal frames of reference? Which aspects of which stories told by whom, when, where, and how do we hold on to, file away, pass along? Do we stop to wonder why the storyteller is telling that particular story or do we just go with it because it slots neatly into our worldview?

I got going on all this about storytelling because of the increasing number of stories about your staff leaking stories to the press about your immature, poorly controlled behavior and their contempt for you. From my point of view those stories about their stories are perfectly believable and reasonable, even though they do beg the question why no one has left your administration in a colorful, tell-all sort of way. Even there, though, I can easily imagine a plausible scenario where they feel too afraid of retribution to risk it. From one of your supporter’s points of view, the stories about your staff members’ stories probably seem like so much garbage the press is trying to use to smear you and the lack of anyone “telling all” means there’s nothing to tell. Worldviews leagues apart, taking the same elements and concluding wildly different things. I don’t have a solution but do think recognizing our vulnerability to stories and wanting stories to believe is going to be key to getting through the next chapters we all have to endure together.

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect peacefully.

Tracy Simpson

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