“Stories are data with a soul.” ~ Brene Brown

Ms. Brown has nothing to do with UFO or fringe research. She describes herself as a “storyteller researcher” (or researcher storyteller) in social work. Brilliant and funny and very important, but for completely different reasons having nothing to do with the weird world of All This Stuff.

But her quote about stories as data had me thinking about the value of witnesses stories about their sightings and experience. I think we tend to listen, then go off in a quest to delve, research, dissect the story, leaving the witness in the dust, and getting rid of the parts that don’t match our ideas about What Is Really Going On. Reptilians? Go away. It’s messy!!!! Crazy messy.

But we need to calm down and get over ourselves as oh-so-serious-bona-fide UFO researchers and listen.

Brown talks about vulnerability. She went in search of it; what is it in the character that makes someone intentionally vulnerable? Willing to be vulnerable. Certainly witnesses to the fantastic make themselves vulnerable every time they tell their story.

I’m open. I’ve discussed my most strange paranormal/supernatural life in detail all over the place. Why? Not for money, that’s for damn sure. I’ve put myself out there and have been threatened and stalked. Accused of lying, being a man (?!), wanting to be a man, trying to sound like a man (again: ???!!!), being Jewish, gay, not using my real name, threatened with rape, and violence — specifically, stabbing me with a knife. All because I’ve experienced the weird and talk about it. And damn well fight back when accused of devious motives. Those from ones who cannot allow themselves to be vulnerable.

That is vulnerable. That is telling my story.

By telling my story, I connect. Not with everyone, not with the majority, not with the mainstream or accepted topics of conversation. But when I do connect, I connect. I continuously find myself engaging with others with similar interests and experiences. Often surprising connections.

That’s the point of Brown’s TED talk: connecting. We’re connected. Being vulnerable causes our connections to be authentic.

It’s also messy, what with lairs, hucksters, unbalanced (even there, though, showing a vulnerability grown forth from a trauma), and so on. So what it’s messy? A lot more work, but, there it is.