I’m a storyteller.
That’s not earthshaking news if you’ve been following this blog and my stories for a while. I believe that stories provide the energy that keeps us running.
And I’ve found that like gratitude, once you begin telling your own stories, you keep finding more. I’m not talking about big, dramatic, “made for TV” stories, though I expect we each have a few of those inside us. I’m talking about the stories of daily life – yours and mine.
Stories connect us to each other and help us feel not so alone.
They also connect us to our history and help us know who we are and where we come from.
In this big, sometimes chaotic, sometimes lonely world, stories help ground us and offer safety, familiarity, and peace of mind.
I know that sounds like a tall order, especially when all I’m talking about is listening to your grandmother’s story about what life was like when she was a girl. And yes, I know it’s likely not the first time you’ve heard her tell that particular story.
But you must trust me on this: It’s important. Not only to her, but important to you as well.
In 2008 a non-profit organization called StoryCorps, whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives, designated the day after Thanksgiving as The National Day of Listening.
Instead of spending your day in a frenzy of shopping, try a frenzy of listening.
Let the time open up in front of you and simply listen.
If you aren’t sure what to ask, you can find some good prompts on the StoryCorps website. Pull out your phone or a recorder and capture your interview.
There are things I wish I could remember about my grandparents.
They told so many stories and yet I can only remember bits of a few of them. My paternal grandmother was a consummate storyteller.
She entertained her three granddaughters with stories of her childhood on a ranch somewhere outside of Longmont, Colorado. She told of hard times and good ones. She told about Indians coming to the ranch. She told a few scary stories that I only remember in part. Something about a ghost tractor driving up and down the field at night lives on in my little girl memory. But I have no details and I wish I did.
Back then no one thought to capture her stories.
The National Day of Listening is a way to honor your loved ones by truly listening to them.
We want to know that our life has made a difference, no matter how large or small the field was in which we played.
I once received a card with this message:
“What everyone needs is a good listening to.”
I kept it in my office for many years, though now I no longer have it. Not sure who said it, but I love the sentiment.
I encourage you to set aside some time this weekend to listen. Grab your beverage of choice and maybe a slice of that pie left from yesterday’s feast.
Find comfortable chairs and an expanse of uninterrupted time. Turn off the television and tune in to someone you love.