Getting Lost

When you receive one message from multiple sources, you have to sit up and pay attention.

The last chapter of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly begins with this line from poet Antonio Machado: “Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.”  Brown uses this line to illustrate her research methodology, which is based on grounded theory research.  It is an emergent approach to research, in which, rather than starting with a hypothesis and testing it, researchers collect data and then search the data for conclusions.

When I read about Brown’s research methodology, I thought of a phrase writer Pam Houston used during a recent interview on Brad Reed’s podcast, “Inside Creative Writing.”  When asked to describe her writing process, Houston alluded to “the forest of not knowing.”  When she sits down to write, she tries not to concern herself with where a piece is going, what will happen next, or how it will end.  She gets lost in the forest of not knowing and trusts the piece will emerge in time.

Doesn’t Houston’s writing process sound like grounded theory research?  “Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.”  The traveler must get lost in the forest of not knowing.  Isn’t it amazing that two vastly different fields benefit from the same, emergent process?  Brene Brown describes her research as “story-catching”.  What is a writer, if not a
story-catcher?

I suppose we are all story-catchers.  I suppose we all need to get a little lost in the forest of not knowing.  After all, isn’t that why we’re here?  Don’t we all have a path to forge?  Time to pick up our walking sticks and step onto our paths.  If we get a little lost, let’s not worry.  Our stories will emerge.

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