How many faded snapshots have you seen in attics or antique stores that have completely lost their names, their places, and their stories?
So many special stories are gone because memories fade and people pass through our lives. As you can see here, many of our treasured pictures deteriorate over time. This one is of my father and my grandfather and it is one of very few pictures I have of my grandfather. Even our 'modern', digital pictures get lost in the cloud or on numerous hard drives, thumb drives, memory cards, or phones. I find that it is worth the time to find and preserve the most special pictures in one place and ensure they will collectively represent what's important to me forever. But something is still missing...the story...and preferably the story in the original voice.
Yes, I can make a digital copy of what is left of the picture of my father and his dad and it will be saved forever, but what I don't have is the story it tells. Fortunately, my father is 81 years young and I was able to ask him. I decided to record him telling the story in my StoryWings library and saved it with the picture. Now our family can always hear him telling us how his father was congratulating him and why. Apparently, he was the neighborhood hero for one day. The local paper wrote about how he ran away from a rabid fox while delivering newspapers. (It's is much more interesting, and funny, to hear him tell it....literally.) Now, doesn't that give the old picture so much more value?
I took some lovely pictures in Venice, Italy. They are not as beautiful as the tourism pictures you see everywhere but they are very pretty. What makes my pictures special is that I took them in person while on a trip with my husband and our friends. There is SO much more to each picture than the image. Unless I share the stories behind them, and unless those are shared again, the real meaning of the pictures will be lost. (I may be the only one who cares but I surely have some stories and pictures my children and their children will appreciate over time.) Should we add all of our pictures to StoryWings? Probably not...just the ones that best represent the best stories.
Pictures bring to mind stories. Voices tell them. Capturing them together is a treasure beyond words.
TRY THIS: Put a date in your calendar each month when you will select a few pictures that are special to you and record or tell the stories about them to be treasured forever. Consider doing it with a friend, child, or other family member. Pour a cup of tea or have a glass of wine and have fun!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teri Spina is the the Founder of StoryWings (www.StoryWings.net). Her organization promotes storytelling and their technology provides a way to record, share, and archive stories of all types.
Stories can change lives...
Wow! That is a pretty powerful statement. Well it is true. Powerful stories can influence, even change lives, and they deserve to be told. Even short stories. And sometimes we can make the world a better place by telling them. Big or small. Short or long. Spread your wings and let your stories soar because stories can change lives.
One of my personal favorites is a story about my husband's uncle George. He was at dinner by himself and noticed a woman and her young son at the next table. He was a very kind man and he asked the waitress if he could pay their bill. The waitress returned to him saying that the woman was uncomfortable about it and said no thank you. Uncle George went over and explained that when his daughter was on her honeymoon, an older couple paid for their dinner. They said that someone had done the same for them fifty years earlier when they were on their honeymoon and they hoped that the newlyweds would continue the tradition. Now Uncle George was paying it forward and hoped that some day they young boy would do the same for someone else. To his surprise, the woman began to cry and told him that she and her son were celebrating the life of her husband. He was a very kind man himself and he died a year earlier. Wow! Uncle George ending up paying their bill.
While he passed away many years ago, Uncle George's story and his kindness continues. I tell this story every chance I get. It also inspired my family. Every holiday season we identify people we don't know who and are performing simple kindnesses. We then quietly slip them a tip and move on. One year there was a woman cleaning a NY Thruway ladies room. I marveled as she worked away with a smile and a song. As people entered, she ensured that every patron went to a stall she had already cleaned. She truly lifted my heart. I slipped some money into her cart and walked out and thought she didn't see me. She caught up with me to give it back and said, "I'm not allowed to take tips Ma'am." I closed her hand around the money and explained that it wasn't a tip but it was a gift. I thanked her for being so kind. She beamed and went back to work.
That day, I left with a heart full of gratitude for meeting such a kind person and being able to make her day a little nicer. Then I thanked Uncle George for the example he continues to set for me and my family. If he hadn't shared his story we may not be continuing this informal 'kindness chain'...a chain that began almost a century ago with the very first couple who bought a meal for a new husband and wife. So now I am sharing it with you...
See how easy it is? Stories aren't always so powerful and positive but they can be and if you don't share them you'll never know. It doesn't take much to look into your heart and find them and share them. Who knows? You may spark something in your listeners whether it is curiosity, inspiration, laughter, or tenderness. Sometimes they even spark anger or disgust, but even those stories can teach us how to be better humans. At the very least, telling your story may inspire others to tell theirs and that's a very good thing.
TRY THIS: Sit with someone special and ask them to tell you their most powerful story. Ask them for a story from their life that they either experienced directly or heard about and and reacted to in some powerful way. Don't give them more guidance other than that it can be funny, sad, educational, sweet, or bazaar. There are no rules about what kind of story it is beyond that the person telling it must own it somehow. Sit quietly as they think back and pick a story to tell you. Consider asking them to show you a picture related to it. Maybe even record them telling it. What fun that would be!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teri Spina is the Founder of StoryWings (www.StoryWings.net). Their mission is to promote storytelling and the technology provides a way to record, share, and archive stories of all types.