Telling our stories

9:26 AM

A week ago Sunday, I took my friend Libby out for a belated birthday adventure. I wanted, in celebrating her birthday (which was a milestone one), to celebrate her and the things that make her so wonderful. In essence, I wanted to celebrate her story. (You can read about our adventure here. She did such a nice write-up, there's really no reason for me to do it again.)

As a culture, I fear we are losing our ability to tell our stories. Maybe that's a little melodramatic; but we are falling out of practice. And our stories are so very, very important. They are why we are who we are. And they are truly interesting--particularly to those who know and love us. For Libby and I, our storytelling adventure culminated in the creation of a bracelet made with beads marking milestones in her own time line--the high points of her unique story if you will. It's a wonderful bracelet, and the story that goes with it makes it even better. In fact, I liked hers so much, that I pulled out one I made last year and started to wear it again.

The funny thing about the bracelet is that I remember certain things every time I look at it. I see the Asian coin that represents the year and a half I lived and worked in Japan. I see the shiny green bead that symbolizes The Beloved. I see the cup that reminds me of my family and their insistence that there is always enough room at the table and of course you should bring a friend...or a dinner, because no one should have to eat alone. Well, perhaps that isn't funny. After all, I made the bracelet, and I know what it means.

The truly interesting part happens when strangers comment on it. Last week, when I paid for my morning vanilla latte extravagance at Starbucks, the young lady at the drive-thru window asked me about it. And I told this total stranger, "Well, it's my story. Everything on this bracelet represents something important in my life." And even though there were cars behind me filled with cranky people waiting for their coffee, she wanted to know how I did it. So I gave her the guidelines I used:

  • Make a time line of the important things or places or people or events that made you who you are
  • Go to a bead shop (or into your stash if you have one) and find a bead to mark each occasion on your time line
  • String the beads in order (I use 1mm elastic line so that I can knot it and not worry about clasps and such; you can use anything that works for you)
  • Wear proudly. Remember your story. Tell as much or as little as you want when people ask--for they will ask.
I hope my young barista makes herself a bracelet--or that she takes one of her friends out on a storytelling adventure. And I hope you do the same. I think we're all looking for this small sort of connection with one another--perhaps its one of the reason we blog. This is a small, simple way to share with the people we see everyday but seldom take the time to really know.

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