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.