In fact, this concept of the importance of story telling to our ability to form our own identities and our community identities has been an interest of mine for years. I even wrote several essays about it for school and turned those essays into articles that I shopped around for publication.
I have yet to find a publisher, but feel so strongly about the ideas that I just want to share them with all of you. In around 500 words I was able to tie my core beliefs in with some societal concepts to emphasize my passion for telling our stories.
Telling Our Stories
I believe taking the time to tell our stories and listening to the stories of others is one way to create a sense of community. It is through the sharing of stories that valuable connections are made. Our stories connect us to our personal pasts and cultural history. Our stories are also our bridge into the futures that we will and won’t be seeing one day.
In the past, the story tellers of a society were revered. They were the keepers of a community’s legends and lessons. They were the honored advisers to the community’s leaders. The stories they told were for entertainment as well as education.
I think that in this day of instant technologies we still need to take the time to make connection with our family members, co-workers, and friends by exchanging our stories.
At one of my former places of employment, conversation of the production line was discouraged.. Our purpose was to quickly build quality parts for shipment. One day I could tell my co-worker was upset. I asked if something happened. She said she was about to celebrate her daughter’s fourth birthday. It seemed odd this would be upsetting to her. I asked if her daughter was well. She told me that her daughter was fine.The she shared with me that when she was four her mother had to make the choice to send her to this country with her grandparents. She was thankful that she was here and her grandparents had raised her as their own daughter but now, as her child was turning four, she wondered if she would have been able to make the same sacrifice.
It is not often that I am moved to tears at work. This is one example to me that everyone we encounter has an amazing story we can learn from if we take the time to listen.
My uncle was our family historian. He made the past relevant for us as we grew up. My grandparents died before I was two. My uncle made them real for me by the stories he told. He created a sense of family. The stories were able to bridge gaps created over time by illness, old age, and death.
My uncle passed away in May of 2008. It had been hard to adjust to his absence. I yearned to hear one more story. My aunt came to visit in September of that year and said she had a gift for me, a piece of paper. She explained that my uncle had taken a class when they moved to Las Vegas fourteen years earlier. It was his way to meet people in the community.
In the concise one page reflection my uncle told the story of my grandfather’s life and death, details that were new to me. I learned new facts about my grandfather's early life working down in Alabama and new insights about my uncle’s thoughts and feelings when caring for my grandfather when he was dying.
Death could not reduce the power of our story to connect us. My heart’s desire was fulfilled with one last story.