I’ve written a collection of stories. I’m not sure why. Until someone makes it clear to me, I hope you enjoy the intro and a couple sample stories.
Stuttering Gets the Girls:
Stories from a Life on Three Continents
I have a penchant for subjecting my friends to a particular batch of stories. My wife first chronicled the phenomenon. Sitting around the kitchen table with some friends, as I dramatically concluded a tale about what it means
to love selflessly, she noted, “That’s the same story you use to make the point about manliness.” Within minutes the group identified nine other stories I use to make multiple points.
“O and there’s the Nepal story,” one said.
“O yeah!” they all groaned with a smile.
“And then there’s the one about that old priest in Italy.”
Most tales had been told multiple times to three or more of them, and some could be animatedly “re-sung,” using the same percussive emphases and gesticulations as the bard himself. A few even admitted to occasionally using these stories to make similar points to others. So, with unanimous consent they commissioned me to write them down, for posterity’s sake (and in hopes that they might be spared future retellings). As I proceeded, and told other friends about the project, several more stories emerged, and I ended up with twenty-two. And, of course, every year or so, a new story will enter the pantheon. These stories might be funny or dramatic, some might not be proper stories at all, but to be in this collection they must abide only one criterion: I actually use them in everyday conversation to make points, usually more than one.
These tales are true, or at least I think so. Modern neuroscience tells us that the more we recall something to memory the more mistaken we likely become. Countless retellings have solidified these narratives into something I cannot confidently say is historically accurate. Yet accuracy has become secondary. What matters now is the point I am trying to make.
While I usually talk about theology, politics, or metaphysics, these ‘myths’ are about things like patriotism, manliness, simplicity, honor, anger, mystery, superficiality and, above all, love. These stories are about how one should live and interact with others. In light of my background, I suspect this is more than mere oddity.
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan to Christian missionaries. We lived in Hong Kong for nine years and moved back to Taiwan for nine more, so my first full year in the States was actually my first year in college. This makes me what some call a “Third-Culture Kid,” that is I take the culture of my parents and the culture of my host country, mash them up, and create a third culture of my own. While the process of culture creation is more pronounced for me and those like me, all of us select narratives by which we live. Like the Greeks of old, we are adrift in a world we do not fully understand, and we seek orientation through story.
I humbly present the reader with some stories that have anchored me though the years. I offer up these moments of clarity, but with three big caveats. First, I could very well be wrong about everything. Second, I am no ethicist and have not systematically inventoried my ethic in an attempt to produce a cohesive whole. The fact that these myths are used to make points indicates that they are somewhat countercultural, or emphasize values that some might find controversial. Making points everyone already agrees with is a bit more annoying than even I am willing to be. Third, while I have grown comfortable with my incompetence as a philosopher, I do not yet enjoy the same contentment in my buffoonery as a story writer. In general, I would much rather make the point than tell the story, which is good since I know nothing about writing stories. However, though it pained me incessantly, I have limited myself to just mentioning one or two points per myth. You must fill in the rest. Please enjoy!
Sample Story #1: The Gift that Keeps On Taking
Sample Story #2: Courage Under Fire