It’s all about the story — and, of course, how you tell it. Our relationships revolve around these same stories. Everyone has their own stories — it can be as long as their life’s history, as short as the events of last night, or something in between.
Stories and storytelling are our oldest forms of communication. Before the Internet, the iPod, movies and television, we had our own imaginations — and reality — from which to be entertained and entertain others. No matter what your culture, religion, or political affiliation, everyone had something to share.
All our relationships depend on which stories we choose to share, and with whom. And doing so face-to-face. You can only share so much through technological communication. And it’s not an easy way for listeners to really get what you feel. Granted, there’s nothing like the Internet, and even the telephone, to keep us in contact with friends and family who live far away. But it’s the tone of voice, the inflections, the body language, the look in your eyes that really helps to convey your true emotions when telling someone a story.
When you meet someone for the first time, it’s like picking a book off a shelf. What you see on the outside may or may not reflect what’s going on in the inside. And that’s the beauty of meeting people and making friends.
I enjoy hearing other people’s stories, and so I ask a lot of questions. Often times people are reluctant to share their stories and need some coaxing, or proof the listener is genuinely interested. For me, it’s like discovering a delicate item that has been wrapped in layers of protective cloth. Each layer reveals something new about what’s hidden inside.
Every individual story has its own texture, its own uniqueness. For example, a woman I recently met is from South America and her mother was once kidnapped for nearly a month. The point isn’t that everybody’s story has to be that dramatic, but that each person with whom you connect brings something different and new to your life and your broader understanding of life.
I met a woman last year at a program we both attended with our toddlers. The usual niceties, we had friends in common, and so began our acquaintance. But each week we would talk more, and each week we had a story to share with each other — about our children, our husbands, our careers, our friends, and the trials and tribulations that follow.
Each week, though I enjoyed the time with my child, I also looked forward to hearing more about this woman and having a good laugh. Now, two years later, she and I are great friends — and it’s thanks to our story sharing.
I’m certain that many of you have interesting stories with something unique to share with the rest of us. Send brief accounts to me and I’ll try to feature one every so often.