We are all walking histories with stories to tell. Memorable stories. Meaningful stories. Heartfelt stories. Funny stories. Stories of family, of friends, of pets. Stories of missteps and misadventures. Stories of how our hearts broke and how they got repaired. Stories of lessons learned the hard way. Milestone stories that remain markers on our timelines.
Stories tell a history and let us make an instant connection. Stories dissolve walls. We can let down our guard when we tell our story (because we control the flow of information – how much, how little). And stories breed more stories. The listener may become the storyteller, and the roles may switch back and forth as we recognize, the oh, you too? connection with someone else. For we like to be unique but not singular. We are one of kind but have had many of the same experiences.
When you tell someone a story, you give them a gift, but you also get something in return. You get empathy and understanding. You get that someone gets it. And you may get some relief or peace just by the telling of it.
To illustrate, I will tell you my story of Mia Sophia, my first dog. I got my first dog well into adulthood. My son was not talking by age 3, and we were very worried. The suggestion arose that a dog might help him with communication and talking – a therapy dog of sorts. So we researched breeds and bought an adorable Cairn terrier and named her Mia Sophia. Cairn terriers are small friendly dogs that will hold their ground. Well, to make a long story short, our son ignored the dog completely. And Mia Sophia ended up having epilepsy. So our “therapy dog” herself was quite sick. Are you laughing and crying at the same time? (We were.) If you’re a parent, you will connect with the worried part. If you were a late talker, you will connect with the speech part. If you’re the owner of an epileptic dog, you will connect with the seizures part. Etc. This story transitions to a deeper discussion, and a connection will be forged between two strangers having shared it.
The most poignant story I have ever read is also the shortest. In a contest to write a six word story, here’s the winner. (Sorry, don’t recall author’s name.) Baby shoes for sale, never worn. Ooh. Instant empathy.