Okay, so here’s the big news (a few hours too late, but it’s here nonetheless)…
That’s right guys, the Taboo Tab has its very own roof now at tabootab.com. It will hang out on Shaunanagins too, of course…this blog isn’t going anywhere, I will certainly be using it to share those brainwaves you know and (hopefully) love. I just wanted the Taboo Tab to have more space to expand and maximize its awesomeness.
And it looks pretty freakin’ decent, if I do say so myself. Clean, readable, visual…definitely worth taking a look and diving into.
(I am so excited, you guys. SO excited. This is going to be awesome.)
Want to keep up/get involved with the Taboo Tab project?
Submit your story: We are currently seeking articles on the subject of Mental Health (submission deadline: February 15). We would also to hear about your experiences in the areas of Death & Grieving, Sexuality, and Body Image. If you have any experiences related to those categories, give me a shout here.
Give it a read: Even if you don’t want to submit your own articles, the Taboo Tab has some phenomenal stories that are well worth exploring. Check it out, drop a couple comments, and let me know what you think!
For those of you that are new to the blog, the Taboo Tab section on shaunanagins.com is dedicated to showcasing individual stories on subjects deemed “taboo” in polite conversation. With the help of storytellers willing to share their experiences, we have been able to help people relate to each other better, build awareness, and create compassion. It’s place for listening, for reminding one another that we aren’t alone…and that, whatever our stories are, we aren’t broken.
It was 2011. I suppose that wasn’t so long ago, really, but it feels like forever now.
I was sitting in the basement of a local Unitarian Universalist Church, surrounded by regular attendees. I hadn’t been to any kind of worship in at least a decade, and felt like a fetus surrounded by middle aged church goers. I watched as the Minister passed around markers, telling us to “draw our spiritual journey.”
(I realize this may seem strange, but trust me–it’s business as usual at the UU.)
I drew and labeled tentatively across the page. When we finished, I partnered up with the woman across from me to go over the designs. She showed off her intricate, curving pathway–marriage, born again Christianity, yoga, Wicca, kids. It was a beautiful timeline, and I smiled back at her story as she scanned my drawing curiously.
I hadn’t drawn a timeline.
I had drawn a tree.
A group show-and-tell circled around the room. One by one, everyone began revealing their timeline. Curves, corners, arrows, paths, this-thus-that. Even the Minister illustrated his journey with thick, chronological lines.
And there I was, with my frizzy short hair and limited life experience, clutching an image of twisted branches while everyone poured out their major life events.
On some level, it probably had to do with my age. When the Minister said “spiritual journey,” all my young mind could think of were moments and relationships, good meals and great ideas, quiet places and loud families. These were the things that made God seem just a liiiittle closer than usual. So I drew roots. Branches to represent friendships, leaves to represent moments. Some of the leaves were falling off of their perch; others were growing flowers. Text and little hearts explained (or refused to explain) what it all meant.
Basically, it was hyper-symbolic. It was not so simple –> as –> this.
And maybe it was a little strange, maybe it wasn’t quite what the Minister was looking for, but…I was proud of my tree. I liked the openness. There were “big life” events on the tree, of course, markers of birth/death/love/war. But there were other things, too. The tree represented my life as a work-in-progress, with multiple facets. One big, bright leaf reflected a long, peaceful silence I shared with a close friend. Another represented the first time I got absolutely engrossed watching a play.
The tree let those things matter.
Looking back, my favourite thing about the tree is that it was strong, but not rigid. It was alive.Parts could grow, or break and fall right off, and it would all be natural. As a young person, that was important. I think it might stay important as I get older.
(It’s also possible that I’m just kind of a hippie. Feel free to raise an eyebrow.)
By nature, timelines present our memory and our identity as rigid. They present our lives as one big story, instead of millions of imperfect experiences. I don’t know if that’s fair. I don’t think we should restrict our identity to the things that “count” as milestones. We aren’t necessarily tragic heroes with a beginning-middle-end. Nor are we self-aware folks on a direct journey through life. “That was a really hard time in my life,” or “That was the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Too simple. That’s just too simple. We aren’t timelines. We can’t stop at chronology. I don’t want to compartmentalize your life, or my life, not like that.
Yes, yes, I realize all this might sound odd coming from a History student.
Let me be clear: Timelining is a great way to establish context. It’s not a crime to treat events as “things that took place,” or even to consider people as empty, reactive vessels that “things happened to” at first. I absolutely devour the nothing-but-chronological unfolding of the world through the lens of time.
But I also don’t, and can’t, stop there.
Even in History, reality often comes in trees. Family trees, for example. Essay outlines. Complex international relations maps.
We have to branch out. Timelines are great at telling base, simple stories…but they’re not so great at telling the whole truth.
And when it comes to our own identity, our own History, we deserve the Truth. We deserve to represent ourselves as more than a timeline–more than what happens to us, and certainly more than a few life events that people have decided are “important.”
Maybe, just maybe, we could use the wisdom of trees to start looking at that.
(I know, I know. Hippie alert, part two. You can raise your other eyebrow.)
The Taboo Tab is a a community of writers and readers bravely putting faces and stories to subjects society seems to skip over.
This month, that subject is sexuality. Whew. Not exactly a small topic. And it’s a serious one, too–just look at what has been in the news this week.
This is a powerful group of stories that together show the complexity and diversity of a notoriously challenging area. There are stories about judgement, outlooks, and experiences. Slut. Prude. Abstinence. Rape. Conversation. Diversity.