Monday, July 11, 2011

The Stories We Tell

Sometimes I feel a little self-centered and narcissistic keeping a blog that’s centered around me. Maybe my time should be better spent focusing on other people in my life. Documenting minute details of my life like paint color and the latest bird attack aren’t of significant importance no matter how much time I do (or don’t) spend writing up the story. Perhaps a more outward focus rather than inward focus would be healthier and more productive. All of this may be true but I’ve been confronted with the importance and power of stories in the past couple of weeks.

Heather took a recent trip to Bangladesh to learn about a project involving women and death in childbirth. I won’t go into the details, she’s written it all up here, but did it ever start a conversation (as is wont to happen with anything involving Heather.) It was a conversation about talking versus doing. I came away from it thinking that talking is underrated when we live in the US where we can talk anytime, anywhere and about anything. Elsewhere, telling a story and having someone listen to it is significant and can be life changing.

A friend of mine has become so passionate about working to end sex trafficking that he’s started a blog. We’ve heard the statistics, we’ve read an article but it's the story that conveys the emotion, the passion and elicits a response. He’s telling stories as a starting point for action.

I listen to, watch and read the news and work hard to sort out the bias from facts. But Six Stories from Seven Continents gives me content to hang those facts on. I get to know the little details that make the facts real, relatable and memorable (and as I get older I need all the memory help I can get!)  

Of course, Cookies for Emergencies isn’t going to change the world, but it’s my story. My story is significant because it affects the ones around me. If I can document my daughters’ lives in a way that gives them insight into who they are and where they came from, then it’s significant. If I can share a story that makes people laugh, gives them a smile on a day that sadly lacking in them, then that’s significant. If I can process my thoughts and opinions so that I am confident in the choices I make and how I participate in this world, then that’s significant.

We often feel that if we’re not actively working towards a specific goal then we’re not doing anything of importance. But I think we underestimate the power of listening to someone’s story and sharing our own. Taking the time to share and to listen is saying that the essence of the person is the most important thing; more important than my to-do list and 5-year goals and the flurry of information being thrown in my direction at any given moment.

Stories make us human, they reduce us to our basic elements and give us a connection that no statistic, no rational argument, no list of facts and figures ever could. So…I keep thinking about these things and find my spare moments to document a few of them… One day I’ll look back at my own story and probably laugh and shake my head at some things but I know I’ll  be really glad I took the time to write it all down – if just for the laugh on a bad day.

No comments:

Post a Comment