StoryCorps was founded by Dave Isay, a familiar voice to NPR listeners. StoryCorps began with the simple idea that everyone has an important story to tell. With that in mind, Dave Isay and his StoryCorps teams traveled the country to small towns and large cities with mobile recording booths collecting the stories of everyday Americans from a variety of generations, backgrounds, and walks of life.
The Listening is an Act of Love Deluxe Gift Collection (which includes a hardback book, an audio CD with ten selected stories, and a companion book with few ideas on how to collect stories of your own) caught my eye at Starbucks the other day. I perused the description on the back of the box. Hmm. It made me think of Christianne and her work collecting the stories of hospice patients. I turned it over in my hands, intrigued, but left without purchasing it. This morning that I went back and purchased my own copy.
I listened to the CD when I got to work, barely able to contain my tears. These people are your friends, your grandparents, your neighbors; they are in line with you at the grocery store, they sit in the row behind you at church. And they all have remarkable stories to tell if only someone will ask and listen. There are stories from the Great Depression, from the ER, from military wives, from teenagers, from young couples, and from those who have enjoyed years beyond their golden anniversaries. There are stories of loss and of separation, stories of first loves, the deaths of parents, the loss of children. There are stories from Hurricane Katrina, from 9/11, from the trenches in the Middle East. A common thread of love runs through them all. You don’t need to know the people to be moved by the stories they tell.
It made me think of blogging and how those of us in this sphere are essentially writing our own stories as we move through our lives. It made me think of how our stories connect, and how that connection is a seed from which community grows. We all have stories. And I think we all want our stories to be validated somehow; we want to share them, we want them not to be forgotten. We use them to connect with one another in this virtual blogging space.
Especially at this time of year, I’m mindful of how I can be most generous with those I love. It has nothing to do with how much I spend, how big the box is, or how long I spent in line waiting to purchase it. I think the gift of listening to the stories of the lives around me is a gift. Validating their stories and our stories together. I think of the stories my grandparents have told, and how sad it would be if they were lost. I think of my parents’ stories, of my siblings’ stories. I’m inspired to collect their stories, to really listen, to record them, to write them down. To ask the thoughtful questions. After hearing some of these stories, I cannot think of a better gift.
So this is what I’m going to do to spread the love (thanks to Blue Mountain Mama for this wonderful idea): I’m purchasing an extra copy of this book/CD set. I'm going to send the extra set to one lucky reader. Leave a comment here by Saturday the 15th. I’ll drop all the names into a bowl and pull one out on Sunday. I’ll send it to you (most likely after the holiday mailing rush has passed), and then you can enjoy it too.
Merry Christmas, all! May the gift of Love be yours.
** If interested, you can purchase a copy of the book or the audio CD from Amazon.com.
For a sampling of stories, you can go directly to the StoryCorps website and click on “Listen to Stories” to hear 2-3 minute snippets of StoryCorps’ work. If you're anything like me, you'll get addicted to these moving first-hand narratives!
P.S. Check it out! Click here and scroll down to "On the Blogs". Too cool!