I have been thinking about stories. Not the horizontal sections of a building, but the other kind of stories. A story (as defined by dictionary.com and The American Heritage Dictionary) is a true or fictitious narrative, prose, or verse constructed to interest, amuse, or instruct the reader or hearer. A story can be an account of an event or a series of events. It is also the existence of something or an account such as “The Story of Public Education.”
Stories are a significant part of human existence. Before pens and paper, before written language, there were stories. Written stories or verbal storytelling are important for numerous reasons: personal, historical, philosophical, spiritual, educational, builds empathy and compassion, the list goes on. But what I am drawn to is people sharing their stories, their knowledge, thoughts, and truths. By sharing our stories we can help others find their way. We all possess some knowledge, insight, or experience that is useful to others. Stories create opportunities for building connections with others, either through insights people learn about the storyteller or they discover something about themselves. It is a way to intimately connect. It’s risky to share your story. You are revealing your true self, or at least pieces of truth, but that’s why we can connect so deeply through sharing our stories.
Check out StoryCorps, an oral history project in America. This non-profit organization archives personal stories for future generations, and shares the stories through weekly PBS broadcasts, podcast, and bestselling books. Another successful story project is Humans of New York. HONY began as a photography project. Then the project’s creator Brandon Staton started to interview his subjects and share stories from their lives. HONY now has over 20 million followers on social media. It is obvious sharing stories is valuable and needed.
Over the last few months I have heard the calling that I should be writing and sharing my stories, thoughts, and experiences. I tried here and there to write some thoughts but it was hard. I am a “Stay-at-home” mom (for lack of a better term) and I home-school our four children ages 8, 6, 2, and 9 months. So even when I could find some writing time it was always interrupted because with four little ones, someone always needs something! But there were little things that kept happening, little coincidences or synchronicities that were telling me not to give up on writing.
So, one day the stars aligned and all the children were sleeping or playing contentedly so I thought it would be a great opportunity to sit and write. I went to my homemade “desk” where I keep a little pot with pens. There were no pens. So with a grunt of frustration I went off to search for a pen. I asked all household members if they knew where a pen was, and of course nobody had a clue or admitted to taking one of my pens. My dissatisfaction with the unresolved pen issue was building. Now that I am searching through every room in the house, I am noticing all the mess and clutter that I don’t get to, so the tightness in my chest is increasing. Then I’m thinking about all the wasted time. If people just put things back, I wouldn’t have to waste precious minutes searching for the things I need, like pens. There have to be 20 something pens in this house, and I can’t find a single one.
So now I am talking out-loud to myself in a frustrated and negative manner about all of the above issues. Then I ask the question out loud (to myself and whoever else is listening to me rant) “How? How am I supposed to write when I can’t even find any pens?” At that moment, my two-year-old announces he’s hungry, “Mumma, can you make me some popcorn?” I give up on my pen search and retrieve the popcorn maker from the storage shelf in the basement and get the popping corn from the pantry. Upon taking the airpopper out of the box I reveal something in the bottom of the box and you’ll never guess what it was. A pen.
So I put out my question of “How am I supposed to be able to write?” and the universe responded, “Here’s a pen.”