Welcome to A Narrative Revolution: Conversations with Steve Gaddis. In this 4-episode series, you will meet Steve and some of his closest friends and colleagues. After Steve was diagnosed with cancer, he met weekly on Zoom with these friends, who provided valuable feedback and encouragement on his book, as well as love, curiosity, and tenderness as he navigated cancer. This group met on Sundays and playfully became known as Steve’s church group. This trailer provides a short introduction to Steve, this series, and his dream of a Narrative Revolution.
Will Sherwin (Clip from: "Stephen" by Will Sherwin (00:13):
From New Zealand to Mexico. Over there in Boston, here in San Diego. People told their stories living in this land, answering the call of a good man.
Sarah Beth Hughes (00:38):
Welcome to A Narrative Revolution: Conversations with Steve Gaddis. I'm Sarah Beth Hughes, a friend and a writing sidekick of Steve's. Steve was a highly skilled marriage and family therapist, teacher, and mentor who was captured by narrative ideas early in his training and became one of narrative's greatest fans. In 2009, Steve co-founded the Narrative Therapy Initiative in Salem, Massachusetts, to create a community dedicated to narrative ideas and training. In 2020, Steve was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer. At the time, I was working with Steve on a book he had been writing for 10 years. Steve's dream was to share his passion for narrative ideas and practices and what living with a narrative worldview could make possible for everyone, anyone, not just narrative therapists. He wrote fiercely about how the narrative worldview saved his life, how this worldview saved him from the story that he was a bad person, a problem that needed to be fixed, how the narrative worldview helped him know that he mattered, that his life had meaning and purpose.
He wanted to share these ideas with every person who was hurting, lost, and longing like he was for too many years. Steve dreamed of a narrative revolution, of a world where there is nothing better to do than help each other, help each other give problem stories less power, help each other become more clear about what we care about, and help each other honor the stories that fit with our values and beliefs. When Steve found out he had cancer, his work on this revolution and his book became a focus, and he and I met a few times each week to explore how to weave his ideas together. Steve had a close community of friends in Boston and around the world and his dear wife, Ashley. This community, which we playfully call Steve's church group, as we met every Sunday morning on Zoom, helped Steve get clearer about his ideas for his book and how he preferred to relate to having cancer.
One of the important things Steve wanted was for cancer to not rob him of his connections to people in his life and his connection with these narrative ways of living. In December 2021, Steve was home after a long stay in the hospital and it became clear that the treatments were not working and he was moving into the palliative stage, the end stage. We knew these conversations were important to him and to all of us, and so we scheduled several recorded interviews the week before Christmas. I will guide you through this four-part series of conversations about Steve's vision of a narrative revolution. Just as Steve wanted his book to be for everyone, we hope this interview series is also for everyone. Whether you consider yourself a narrative therapist or have never heard of narrative therapy, we hope these conversations will inspire you to look at how you make meaning in your life, how meaning gets made without our awareness, and how we can bring more preferred meaning making into our lives.
Steve died on January 6th, 2022, at the age of 59 at home with Ashley and his two children, Will and Laurel. Steve was very sick when we recorded these interviews, and yet he's very clear and articulate and very much in his narrative worldview ways. We share these conversations with you to spread these ideas in the ways Steve dreamed of having them out in the world. Ashley and I continue to work on finishing his book along with members of his beloved Narrative Therapy Initiative community. We wanna give a special thanks to Will Sherwin, a therapist and a musician in California who wrote and performed the song you Hear. He wrote this after a special 24-hour story-a-thon that Steve dreamed up and hosted during the pandemic. It was a great event and Will wanted to honor Steve with this song as a tribute. Here is Steve reading from the introduction to his book to give you a taste of this worldview and the revolution he dreamed of.
Stephen Gaddis (05:06):
I've spent the last 30 years of my life thinking about people and problems in terms of stories. I spent my first 30 years on this earth desiring the truth.
These two periods represent my experience of living in radically different worlds. In the truth world. I wanted to discover who I really was as a person. I relocated to the narrative world to pursue who I wanted to become instead. Immersing myself in the narrative world helped me change my relationship to the story that I'm a bad person. I have another story about myself now, one that I believe in and trust. I now understand myself as someone who never wants to miss an opportunity to try and help another person know they matter. I can't think of anything more important or more satisfying for me to try and do. After my wife and our children, my relationship with the narrative worldview is currently the most important one in my life.
Will Sherwin (Clip from: "Stephen" by Will Sherwin (06:14):
From New Zealand to Mexico. Over there in Boston, here in San Diego. People told their stories living in this land, answering the call of a good man. First met Stephen eight years ago, came to talk with our narrative group in San Francisco. In the first five minutes, he shed a tear. He said, it means so much to me that you are all here. People told their stories of living in this land, answering the call of a good man.
Brought us all together, elders mixing with the new. The up and comers front and center, wouldn't have happened without you. People told their stories of living in this land, answering the call of a good man. Through Beijing to Sydney, from Perth to Bombay, through Cape Town to Burlington, from Chicago to L.A. People told their stories of living in this land, answering the call of a good man. Thanks Stephen.