I have never understood card catalog systems. Every time that I look at the series of numbers and letters in front of me on the cute little slip of paper that a kind librarian has given me, it is as if I am seeing it for the first time. I have to relearn the order and the classification and as soon as I get the book off of the shelf I forget how I got there immediately.
I never minded finding obscure passages in long forgotten manuscripts. In fact, I found the idea of looking at works that could not be found on the Internet and had probably only been checked out a handful of times to be invigorating. I loved the feeling of the old paper as I turned the pages that would never be creased from use.
And yet, the conclusions I came to by reading these tomes would be seen by even fewer people. A teacher, my wife, and maybe a handful of people online if I decided to post it. The research was good. The process was sound, but I’m not sure that matters.
I’m not sure that researching and proving your value as the connective tissue is going to move anyone to tears or to action.
The gathering of resources, no matter how good, is an act of keeping the status quo. No matter how well you glue them together or how much your community needs to hear the words you have written around your obscure references and impeccable quotations, you will never be aiming after something bigger than engaging those that are ready interested.
In a way, that is why those books I found through the hieroglyphics of the card catalog in the basement stacks or libraries will never see a wider audience. Those that care to look, will. Those that do not, must be given a reason to care.
Research will not change minds or create lasting change, it will only support or refute a change that is already taking place.
In other words, no. We cannot research our way out of our problems. The things we find can only help those that are already looking.
So, we must tell stories.
We must tell them to our children and to our friends. We must tell them to strangers, too. We must talk about today, not tomorrow. We must tell our stories, as they are the only ones that we truly know.
And then we must trust hat everyone else is doing their own research. We must believe that people will put together the stories and find their own way forward. Because we can’t focus someone else’s attention.
We cannot be the glue for someone else’s reform.
So, here is my story.
Today I asked a question. I answered it too. I did it so that I could figure out just how my wife is going to go to nursing school while I work from home. I did it so that I could be present while my children learn to swim. I did it so that the overwhelming voice of creative thought won’t creep in on me and strangle whatever focused attention I have left.
I did it because the reflection of my life is my life story.