After World War II thousands of young U.S. veterans flooded the job market and, thanks to the G.I. Bill, purchased homes in newly-built neighborhoods. Frequently, the men and their brides would come together and share stories of their experience in the Pacific, Europe or Africa. One man shared that he landed on the Normandy beach on D-Day and was four miles inland before he was able to pry his fingers loose of his rifle. Others shared their harrowing experiences that their wives had never heard from their husbands privately. These young couples experienced a deep bonding and developed a community of friends that, in many cases, lasted a lifetime.
Post WWII family getting started
Groups of people stranded together by some unexpected situation such as a snowstorm or power outage often facilitates strangers getting to know one another. This is especially true when people aren’t sure they are going to survive or be rescued. Many people open up so much that they inspire reciprocal shares and sometimes lifetime bonds are formed. As collective intelligence theorist Tom Atlee says:
Story is a powerful way of organizing and sharing individual experience and exploring and co-creating shared realities…..every person, every being, everything has a story and contains stories -- and, in fact, is a story -- and that all of these stories interconnect, that we are, in fact, surrounded by stories, embedded in stories and made of stories.
Lived stories are those real-life, actual stories that are happening in the real world all around us all the time. The actual unfolding events relating to any one actual entity or subject comprise that entity's or subject's lived story…..become sensitive to lived stories... to learn about the lived stories of people, places, things... to share our own lived stories... to discover how all these stories intersect, who or what is in the foreground and background of each other's lived stories. Ultimately, this provides the guidance we need to find our own most meaningful place in the universal story.
While analysis is good for control and prediction, story-sensibility is good for understanding meaning and role.
Vulnerably shared stories evoke trust, inspire even greater vulnerability, and can build bonds that last forever. These are the seeds of community that people used to have and now miss. We have forgotten how to tell our stories vulnerably. We are socially conditioned to “play it safe” and not reveal too much of ourselves. Then we wonder why we miss community so badly.
Naturally, there is something to be said about “appropriate vulnerability.” With some people you may not feel entirely safe sharing deeply personal matters. This requires discernment on your part. But when you do feel safe and trust the people you are with, and desire a deeper connection, it may help to allow yourself some discomfort by opening up. Then, when you are asked to tell your story, share yourself from your heart, not your head. Recall life-defining moments and share those. What shaped you to be the person you are today?
If you feel stuck and can only think of your standard check-in, your “elevator speech,” look for something you have never shared about yourself and share that. This could start a flow of additional disclosures that people would like to know about you and you would like to know about them.