We all have our stories about who we are or the series of events on how we got to where we are now. Sometimes these stories are told to friends and relatives, and are well-known to those around us. They’re the stories we tell at parties and family get-togethers. Sometimes our stories are forgotten, shelved in the way back of our memories. Sometimes we feel our stories are too dull or unimportant to share with others, and are sadly collecting dust in our hearts. Well, as a writer, it’s imperative for me to say that stories matter.
The inspiration for this blog post comes from two recent sources. The first one is a book titled Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project, which was recommended to me by my good friend. It’s a collection of transcribed personal interviews between people who sat down and talked with one another as part of the StoryCorps Project. The personal stories in the collection are genuine, emotional, and inspiring. I’m doing an inadequate job of describing the book and the project, so be sure to check them out for yourself.
The other source of inspiration came from a recent play-day my daughter had at her friend’s house. I got to talking with the friend’s mom and learned some of her beautiful story. She escaped Vietnam and came to America with her family at the tender age of 4. She humbly told me about her parents’ choices and sacrifices as they made up their minds to have a better life, and to give their children the best possible chance at a future with opportunity, not oppression.
It got me thinking about the other stories I’ve been lucky to hear about from some of my friends, family, and colleagues…
As a young teenager, my mother came to America from the Azores Islands. She learned to read English rather quickly, and when her teacher tried to give her such simple books as Dick and Jane, she wasn’t having any of that easy nonsense, and requested more challenging reading material. On numerous occasions, she’s told me about how she was poor and grew up on a daily diet of kale (couve in Portuguese), and so to this day, she cannot stand kale.
Our children’s babysitter and her German husband spent a number of their early adult years living in Ethiopia. They learned a lot about African culture, foods, and languages, and still make occasional pilgrimages back to visit old friends.
One of my friends lost her mother to ovarian cancer and a sister to breast cancer. When she was older and a mother to her own child, she got DNA testing done to see if she had a mutation of the BRCA gene. She did, and so she bravely made the life-changing and life-saving decision to voluntarily undergo a double mastectomy with reconstruction, as well as a hysterectomy.
Even my young daughter already has a story. A few years ago, she was having a pillow fight with some of her cousins. She fell and whacked her head on the bed’s headboard, resulting in a pretty bad gash on the back of her head. She needed a number of staples, and now she has a 2-inch scar that’s a perfect horizontal line on her scalp where her hair no longer grows.
Since I’m a rather introspective person, of course I think about my own story… or more accurately, lack thereof. The only thing that feels story-worthy is my study abroad experience in Portugal, but maybe you’ve all heard about that one too many times already. My story is still being written. We’ll see what happens when I get to that chapter.
If you have any of your own stories you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments and I will be sure to read them. Thank you.
As always, thanks for stopping by. ❤