Myths, Stories, Legends
What have I been thinking about this week? I've been thinking about how we use myths and stories to help us understand patterns in our own lives, and what that means for the Mythic Librarian.
I believe stories and myths wouldn't resonate with people if they didn't recognize a piece of themselves, their desires, their hopes, their fears, in the stories. With the understanding that no one follows a pattern, myth, or storyline exactly, I do think that sometimes it can be useful to see and use stories as metaphors, to provide insight and understanding, to help us answer the question, what is and how am I experiencing what it means to be human.
I know I have a lot to contribute, sometimes there's so much in my head informing my opinions, that it takes me a while to figure out what to prioritize. In group conversations this often means I'm quiet because by the time I've prioritized what I want to say, the moment has passed. Spur of the moment can be very difficult for me! In email, I can go back and edit to get to the executive summary - it's much harder in real time. I also have a tendency to "lose words" - I lost "congruent" at the board meeting last Friday and it didn't come back until Monday So annoying!
Anyway - so a story I've had about leadership has been Moses being asked by God to tell Pharaoh to release the Israelites. Moses has all these excuses and God's like, "don't care, go do the thing." The message I had been taking away was - it doesn't matter if you're scared, it doesn't matter if you stutter, it doesn't matter if you need to find a partner, you still have to go do the thing. Not that that's any less true, it's still true BUT.
At this point, I need to weave in a related but different story - in 6th grade, our back to school writing assignment was "who are you?" I had *no* idea what to do with that question. Like - who am I in context of what (mirroring? Who I am *in context* changes depending on my context. In true form, It was like Alice being asked by the caterpillar - WHO ARE YOU? I think I finally came up with something to turn in, but I wasn't satisfied with the answer and I've come back to it time and time again, never entirely happy with the results. It wasn't until really the last year or so that I've realized that I was trying to answer a 6th grade question with philosophy way outside the range of a 6th grader's reach.
The shift in the Moses metaphor that happened on Monday after working with one of my amazing coaches actually tells me my desired answer to the sixth grade question was correct. And the shift was this - Moses also asks God when he sees the burning bush - who are you? And God answers I AM. Then God tells Moses to do some stuff for him. Under whose authority? I AM.
Arachne is another story with some resonance in my life for various reasons, so it is with some trepidation being aware that hubris of comparing oneself to a god can be treacherous territory; however, it is possible to interpret God's answer to Moses in terms of who gives him the authority to go to Pharaoh of "I AM" as intrinsic worth.
Just as God was I AM, Moses IS. There is no need to rely on external authority to do the right thing. I AM (intrinsically worthy of being visible, of being heard, etc) is the only authority one needs. You don't even need to be 2% more knowledgeable than anyone else in the room (though it can be helpful, if they respect expertise which they don't always) for *visibility*. Moses doesn't need to rely on an external figure at all. MOSES IS. That is enough. And then he still has to feel the fear and do it anyway, but he's doing it from a different place. He needs to own the right thing authentically, as intrinsically worthy of doing the right thing, to pull it off rather than, 'uh, God told me to do it.'
So that's been bopping around in my brain. And of course, when one is thinking about I AM, it can be hard not to think of Sylvia Plath saying, "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am."
Like "No," "I AM" is a complete sentence.
What does this mean for Mythic Librarian?
I've been thinking about this. Mythic Librarian is a pretty epic thing to be creating. Who I want to serve with Mythic Librarian are people who are interested in playing with, using, recognizing stories in their own lives to better understand the patterns in their lives and the stories that run through them. Enrichment is a word that comes to mind that needs to fit into this. I don't have all the words yet, I'm still working on them.
The buying audience for what I sell here, would tap into things that connect to the mythic stories that run through our lives. That act as reminders of the values we hold, the people we want to be, and the beautiful and rich metaphors that come from our history as a species.
I have sub-theme (that if you look on my facebook page is maybe actually the primary theme) of librarian as activist and library as life changing well of stories and information. So, that's another thread that I need to weave in some how... The more clear I get on all this, the more it makes sense how we all fit into it.
The Prehistoric Fairy Tale
Back to the thinking about myths and stories, it's been in my media feeds a bunch lately that fairytales are old as dirt. This amazing article in Scientific American actually talks about the science behind tracing myth through time and across geography.
And then there is this fierce librarian:
“Nobody, be it an individual or an agent of the state, should be able to take it upon themselves to silence a point of view simply because they disagree,” Woolfolk informed the Dissent NewsWire. Yet, it would appear that not only is that exactly what happened, but a librarian who tried to make sure that a public library remained a public forum was arrested, as well. (Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Library Worker Heroically Defends Patron’s Free Speech, Is Brutally Arrested in Library Where He Works)
We're not particularly meek or mild people, when you get down to brass tacks.
Thank you for joining me this week! If you know someone who might enjoy this, please feel free to share!
With love, in fierce curiosity,