Telling yours and listening to others’ stories

It seems we can’t get a break from carping, whining, and finger-pointing. Social-political angst. Many thrive on it. It’s an addiction, a drug flowing through their veins. A detox course would be helpful for such souls.

Whatever one’s perspective on the causes, maybe can agree we’ve gone off the rails and are hurtling towards a cliff. Occasionally, one hears commentators bemoan that and wonder what can work to re-unite us. Here’s a suggestion: Begin with telling our stories and listening to others’. Everyone has one and is part of others’ and of America’s.

The world, the country, the state, and the county are filled with fascinating people and wondrous happenings. Like the Santa Shop took place at the Elks. Good people chipping in dollars and donating time to make Christmas better for little tykes and their parents who don’t have it so good.

I enjoy the human-interest stories in the Courant. The closeup of Gilbert Montez a couple weeks back was particularly intriguing. A fascinating gentleman who ceaselessly celebrates life by singing songs from his heart and using his hands to create intricate art.

Laurie Beckel has fired up her new show “All People Considered” on KYGT. APC highlights stories of our Clear Creek neighbors. Her goal is to have conversations with Clear Creek residents with interesting stories like Montez so that we can get to know and appreciate each other more. Last week, she visited with Debbie Rutzebeck and Robin Allen who reminisced about their mother, long-time Clear Creek community leader and contributor Fabyan Watrous. Today, she’ll be talking with Al and David Mosch.

“Not only will this new interview program provide a fascinating listening experience,” Laurie told me, “it will also serve to knit our community together through a deeper understanding of each other.”

Showtime is Wednesday at 5:00 and repeated on Sundays at 3:00.

Cooperating and finding common ground are requisite for our species. We intuitively understand we’re interdependent within our tribe for survival. But many instinctively distrust other life forms, animal or fellow humans. For them, the impulse is to tame, subjugate, or destroy them. That’s been true since homo sapiens evolved. We call that dark side of human nature the reptilian brain not because we evolved from reptiles but because we can act like them.

That’s where storytelling comes in. Authentic stories are like puppies: They can melt the hardest hearts.

When another shares his/her story honestly, I’m invariably hooked. Perhaps, it’s because I find people intriguing. What makes him or her tick? We’re products of our genetics and environment, nature and nurture. What is inherent within an individual? What are the circumstances in his/her life that served as the petri dish for their life’s course and their choices? In the end, we’re all snowflakes: no two alike.

Telling the story of one’s life necessitates one being willing to be vulnerable. The teller wonders and might be anxious about how his/her story will be received. I know from experience that can be risky. While my book “Sisyphus Wins” is work of fiction, I draw on personal experiences in the recounting of the protagonist Jonathan’s life.

One of the joys of having taught English was reading wondrous stories I had not read or rediscovering ones forgotten from my student days. One was “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. A master of irony, O. Henry tells the story of young newlyweds who sell their most valuable personal possessions to buy the other the gift he/she would cherish. In the telling, O. Henry cuts to what the tale of the Magi in the Nativity myth is about: The spirit, ritual, and practice of giving.

Six days to Christmas, two to Winter Solstice, and Chanukah begins on Sunday. Each of them is a story of people within their environments. What’s yours? What are others’? Time to tell and quietly listen, and maybe you’ll hear what I hear.

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