Sunday, April 10, 2011

Teri's 50 Sense: Everybody Has A Story

Welcome to the first entry to Teri's 50 Sense - 50 things I've learned on the road to 50.

I collect stories like some people collect stamps or coins. Chances are if I’m a passenger in your taxi, or seated next to you on a plane or waiting at the doctor’s office, I’ll get your story. Not just the one you tell everyone that covers the basics of who you are, what you do, and what your relationship status is…no I’ll get that one thing out of you few people know about. I’ll get you to tell me what your spiritual beliefs are or your secret wish. At some point during our conversation you will find yourself saying, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this…” and then you will go on because once you know you can tell me, once you see the glint in my eye urging you on you won’t be able to stop yourself. You will tell me you used to shoot heroin while you ran a successful consulting business. When I ask you how it feels to get high, you will tell me.

You will tell me about the time you cheated on your wife and how sorry you are…when I ask you when it was, you will tell me it was when you were in the war. I will ask you what war and you will say the big one, WWII. Your wife passed away twenty years ago and still you feel bad, “worse than killing a man,” you tell me. I don’t ask you what that feels like. I can tell you don’t want to go there.

Maybe you will tell me about how much you cried after you had your baby and how you didn’t feel anything for a long time and how you worried there was something wrong with you until one day the fog lifted and you thought your heart would break from loving her.

Or you will tell me about your debt and how you lost everything from wanting too much and as we drive down the LIE with the meter ticking, you tell me how good it felt to let that desire go…to only own what you have paid for…and to know your wife loved you no matter what.

People tell me these things because I believe everyone has a story…and most stories are more dramatic, interesting, funny and inspirational than any book you’ve read or movie you have seen.
I don’t start the conversation most of the time, but I am open to where it can lead and I’m not afraid to ask a probing question if I trust the willingness is there to answer it. My intent is not to pick at a wound or throw gasoline on a fire…it is to understand more fully.

My friends tell me I am like this because I am a writer…but I think I am a writer because I am like this. I am not in love with language the way many writers are, nor do I yearn for historical accuracy or mass appeal, I am a story junkie. I want you to tell me yours and I want to tell you mine.

I am honored to hear anyone’s truth…even when it is painful. I am willing to listen because the telling of a story, no matter how dark or tragic, is a triumph. There is no greater achievement than living to tell the tale.

That is the whole point isn't it? The joy of living is not just in the doing, it is in the sharing.
Everyone has a story and if you are lucky you might just get to hear it.

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