Finding your "stories at the edge of experience"

One way to think about journal entries is that they are small stories encapsulating what was most significant about the day they were written about. As you build your repository of entries, you'll find that many are run-of-the-mill, not particularly significant, and that a few, maybe more than a few, are really important. What is different about these?

Cynthia Kurtz is a researcher who works with groups to help them gather and make sense of stories to learn about themselves and solve problems. Her book, "Working With Stories," has just been released.

Cynthia knows everything about stories but in particular she has a gift for understanding what makes individual stories meaningful and long-lasting. She writes about this eloquently in her book:

As people tell stories (to themselves and others), they explore the areas of their worlds that hold the most opportunity and danger: the edges of experience.

Why pay so much attention to the edges? Because telling stories takes time and energy, and only at the edges is it worth the expense. Exploring the well-known simply does not pay off. 

Stories about rules are valuable, yes, but a modicum of those will suffice. Stories about exceptions to the rules are more valuable, and the more the better because every exception is different.... This is why folk tale collections are made not of people sowing wheat and baking bread but of babies who drink oceans and tumble-down huts full of gold.

This relates to your journal in this way; there are two questions that help indicate the stories at the edges of your experience - the remembering question and the frequency question.* An experience that has happened rarely, or has never happened before, especially one that you will remember for "a long time" or "a lifetime" are those stories at the edge of your experience. They are the ones you will tell your friends & children years from now.

To find these stories, go to the View Events page and sort on "Frequency" and "Remembering."

*It's no accident that these questions are part of the journal entry. When we were discussing this project with Cynthia several years ago, she suggested them.