COLUMN: A good story connects us together

Deep down people love hearing stories that inspire and connect us with each other.

I love hearing people’s stories.

It’s one of the most attractive things about my job. Every day people let me into their lives and share a part of themselves with me. Sometimes it’s tragic. Sometimes it’s inspirational. And other times it informative.

But whatever their story I feel honoured that people would open up and tell me what they’ve gone through. It can be hard to open up to a stranger. Yet, so many people have blessed me by sharing their struggles or their triumphs.

There are so many people that I meet who tell me they don’t have anything interesting to say. Many people view their lives through a humble lens. They view their accomplishments as just another step in their journey.  There are people who don’t realize just how incredible their accomplishments are or the impact their contributions have made.

When they share their experiences they downplay what they’ve done. Humble people are often my favourite interviews because they don’t realize just how amazing they are. There’s no attitude or arrogance in their tale.

There are so many people in our community who have amazing stories.  It is often a challenge to find those people. If a person has stepped forward and made a difference in a person’s life, I find often those people don’t want to talk about what they’ve done because they don’t want to come across as bragging. Yet, other people may want to hear about it.

It’s a shame that sometimes older people don’t share their personal stories more. I’ve asked my grandmother to tell me about her life. She doesn’t think it’s interesting enough to share. Through coaxing she’s told me a little but it’s only a scratch on the surface of her life. Some stories are too hard to tell I suppose. Maybe next time I visit here she’ll have a tale to tell me, if I just push ever so gently for her to tell it.

My grandfather never spoke about his time in the air force. And to my dismay I never really got to learn much about his life before he died. I often wondered what he went through and what his life was like. He was hard of hearing from working around jets for most of his life. I would often find him as a child working in his shop on his classic cars. There was one in his shop that reminded me of the trucks often depicted in gangster movies.

Deep down I think everyone is in love with stories.

The tales we enjoy as children stay with us as we age. They begin with the bedtime stories our parents read to us at night. Under the thick blankets in the bedroom with nothing but the glow of a nearby lamp casting light into the darkened room the tales unfold. Between the lamp light and the darkness the room’s shadows become the spirits of the tale. Our imaginations begin to morph them into shapes, an evil villain or a gallant knight.

As childhood passes the tales stay with us and we graduate from nursery rhymes and fables to novels. For me the novels I found most fascinating in high school were Science Fiction and Fantasy books. The love affair with Science Fiction sparked my interest in technology and the possibilities of the future. What was once on Science Fiction has become science fact. The technology of stories has inspired scientists to create the gadgets and recreate technologies only previously seen in the imaginations of readers as they read through the pages of science fiction greats.

Stories can inspire. Stories can show us we aren’t alone in how we feel or what we are going through. They connect us with each other.  And they can connect us to the past.