I often think about how everyone has a story. Every person you meet on the street or pass in the grocery store has a story. Something is happening to them – good or bad – and if you talk to them long enough, the story may come pouring out.
Recently a friend asked me what was going on with me. A pretty simple question or so it seems, but clueless here replied with something like, “Eh. Nothing much. My life is pretty boring.”
Um…excuse me? Did I just say that my life is boring?? Have I been living my life the past year? I thought I had been, but if I said my life was boring or that I don’t do much of anything then I’m terribly mistaken. My life is so UN-boring sometimes that I crave dull moments. And if my life was so boring, why do I talk about it so, so, SO very much?
I like to talk. Anyone who knows me for even 20 minutes (or less, really) realizes that. I can take the simplest communication and somehow make it infinitely more complicated than it has to be. One sentence becomes a paragraph because you have to have all the details, right? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
I’m fortunate enough in my volunteer work that the gentleman I spend most of my Saturday afternoons with, Jack, is quite a loquacious fellow. Usually if either of us are telling a story, we have to tell you two or three backstories before we get to the main event. I mean, otherwise how will you truly understand what is happening? Makes total sense. To us. Not necessarily to other folks.
Mostly I figure I ramble and I appreciate of the friends who allow me to do so. Yesterday, however, I realized that maybe I don’t just ramble. Maybe I’m a storyteller.
I was out walking with my friend Shelley this weekend on a glorious autumn Saturday afternoon and we were playing catch-up on our lives. It had been a while since we’d chatted so we had a lot of ground to cover and as anyone who has talked at length with me in, say, the past 6 or 8 months knows, I tend to have a lot to talk about (and sometimes that’s why I pay a professional to sit and let me talk to them). I was relaying some details in a story and kept going, “Oh, but there’s another layer…” There always seems to be another layer.
Thankfully, Shelley seemed to appreciate and be entertained by my crazy life and I am grateful for that. Although maybe she’s just really, really glad the crazy is in my life and not hers!! Cause y’all, the truth is stranger than fiction and don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. You can’t make this stuff up.
Chatting yesterday with my friend DD, I believe she’s the one who said, after I talked about all those layers to the story I told Shelley, “Well, of course [you had so many layers]. You’re a storyteller.”
Huh. Me? A storyteller? And not, y’know, just a blabbering loudmouth? Hmmmm…interesting.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “storyteller” as:
a teller of stories: as
1. a relater of anecdotes
2. a reciter of tales
3. liar, fibber
4. a writer of stories
Hmmmm…well, ok. I guess maybe I qualify. Except the liar and the fibber part. I’d never tell a fib. Maybe a fliblet, but never a fib.
I do enjoy having an audience and especially making people laugh. I walk into physical therapy each week, look at my PT and go, “Have I got a story for you!” Truly. Every single week. She actually seems disappointed if she thinks I don’t have one.
Life is nuts and if there is a way to make a frustrating or sad or otherwise difficult situation better through humor then I am all in favor of it. Actually, I’m in favor of making any situation funny if I can. I do so like to laugh. But I’ve never thought of myself as a storyteller. Not in a positive way, at least.
Now, however, I think I’ll embrace that idea. Yes, I do like to talk at length, but perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The challenge going forward, however, may be to learn to listen more to other people’s stories rather than focusing so much on telling my own. On the news program “CBS Sunday Morning”, Bill Geist used to do a segment where he’d pick a name at random out of the phone book (do they still make phone books?) and call the person and find out their story. I always thought that was pretty cool. Everyone had a story to tell when he talked to them and everyone I know has a story to tell, just like I do. If you ever want to tell me yours, I’d love to hear it.