Occasionally, I’m asked something along the lines of, “Why do you tell so many stories?” Part of the answer to that question is that I simply enjoy telling stories. Even if I am sick, felling down, or generally tired, someone egging me in to telling a story wakes me back up. I can feel the energy building within me as I give myself over to the telling. In those moments, when I’m really on, something magical happens at the conclusion when my “audience” is so caught up there is quiet none of us wants to break. A stillness that lets us both storyteller and audience that it was a truly special moment.
That’s the simple (and obvious) answer, but the truth is much deeper and summed up in the title to this post: I believe stories should be told. It’s important to pass on moments from our lives, to give others a glimpse of our experience. This belief that stories should be told was birthed on a Tuesday afternoon in 2000.
My dad had taken my friend Grant and I out for lunch between classes. Grant was and is a politically and socially conscious kind of guy. He’s particularly interested in issues concerning race and race relations. He’s outspoken about his views and everyone, everyone, around him is aware of where he stands and how he thinks. Grant must have acted as a catalyst that afternoon because my dad shared a story about when he was a teenager and an incident that took place during 1950. Since the story itself deserves its own post, for now just know that it involved a small town baseball team ending segregation, if only for a moment, in a very segregated town. It was amazing. My dad related his memories with complete nonchalance as though he were simply recalling a simple childhood memory, but Grant and I were utterly captivated, all thoughts of food driven from our minds.
Later that day Grant incredulously asked me, “How come you never told me about that? You know I’d want to hear it.” The simple explanation is this: I didn’t share the story because I didn’t know the story. It had never been told to me, so I couldn’t pass it on. I was upset that I had gone almost thirty years without ever hearing it.
That afternoon I began to wonder how many other stories had gone untold. Not just from my dad, but by the people around me. How many moments would never be known? I suddenly understood just how important stories are.
Whatever stories live within us, we need to share them with others. Being able to “tell a good story” is not a prerequisite. That afternoon in 2000 I was enthralled, not by the story teller, but by the story itself. My dad told it very matter of factly with no dramatic flair. The story had enough power on its own. So whatever moments of beauty, agonizing heartbreak, burst of insight, or mundane happenstance live within you, share them. Share them if they’re uplifting, thought provoking, short, long, meandering, or even seemingly pointless.
Share your stories. They should be told.