Maggie Lemere and Zo West recently posted an article on the blog copyblogger that is incredibly moving. In How to Use Stories to Change the World they illustrate how individual life stories speak loudly about the human condition by referencing the publishing of a new book entitled “Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime“.
In a very superficial way, the article reminded me of an advertisement ABC/ESPN ran in October 2008 about Joe Paterno prior to a game between Penn State and Ohio State (Full disclosure: I’m a big Buckeyes fan). That well-produced montage chronicled Jo Pa’s life with Penn State in about 90 seconds in a way that a newspaper column could never do.
Long before written languages the histories of entire civilizations we handed down generation-to-generation through verbal stories told by the old to the young. The point of Lemere and Zo’s article, the point of the ABC/ESPN advertisement, and the point of this blog post is that we all have a story to share and that by telling ours and listening to other’s we become better human beings. We are also blessed to have a myriad of mediums with which to tell our own stories.
So how can we all become better story tellers? Here are some thoughts:
- Ask about and then listen to other people’s stories, especially those of people who are older or more experienced than you. It’s amazing how much people like to talk about themselves, especially when someone asks and then pays attention. Some of my fondest memories of grown up are of listing to stories told to me by my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents (there were five generations of my family living when I was born). Listening to stories will create a bond between you and the story teller that can explain a lot about a person’s point of view and background while creating a lifetime-lasting bond.
- Read other people’s stories in the form of auto-biographies and biographies. Reading books, at a very basic level, is becoming a bit of a lost art in our age of readily-accessible information on the Internet but it’s still hard to replace a well-written book with 1,000-word online articles. Biographies are also great resources to learn how successful people (in any field) became successful.
- Start producing the story of your own life. While my own blog is new, I’ve always collected mementos, letters, photographs and other items that help tell the story of my life. These items not only help remind me of good (and sometimes sad) memories but they also serve as props for storytelling. So start a journal, a scrapbook, or a blog. Years from now you’ll be glad you did.
As Lemere and Zo’s article points out, we too often take for granted the fact that we have the freedom to tell our own stories even if no one ever reads them. Make a resolution today to stop doing that and start adding your voice to the story of humanity as a whole.
By the way, in case you’re curious, the song playing in the background of the ABC/ESPN advertisement is “The Story” by Brandi Carlile. The complete version is well worth the money to download.