Story Time

We all have a story. The stories we have accumulated as we travel our path. Happy ones, sad ones, triumph and tragedy. When you tell your story, and someone listens intently, it can be magical. It can be scary. It can be repetitive. But we all tell them, and we should because we really can learn a lot if we tell and listen to the stories of our lives.

I was watching “Good Will Hunting” last night. It’s such a good movie, and given how Robin Williams’ story abruptly stopped 6 years ago, it holds a little heavier weight for me these days. I can watch that movie through the eyes and ears that have seen and heard many more stories than when I first watched it 23, yes that many, years ago. I didn’t go through much that those characters, Will and Sean, went through in their lives. And I am certainly not intelligent on that level that Will was, nobody I know is, but I am smart enough to get the message.

We all have stuff. Even the most picture perfect childhoods can hold some kind of trauma that isn’t visible to the people you know. I have talked here and there about some of my stuff, my family’s stuff. I don’t like talking about some of it, and some of it flows easily to those who will listen. I certainly don’t like to project what my siblings feel out to the world, because I don’t know what is in their heart, and they may not be in a place to tell their side of the stories. It isn’t some deep dark secret stuff, most likely. Our mom was sick, our dad did and didn’t deal with it, and we grew up. We are all still here, survivors of our circumstances, and the argument of whether or not we have thrived or not remains in action, a story in progress.

Starting 2 new and very different jobs this year has put me in a spot where I am telling some of my story again to new ears and hearts. I was at the restaurant for 10 years, people knew what I told them 10 years ago, and we worked together. Language barriers made it easy to not have to tell too much. Basic stuff, I am single, my parents are gone, my family will come visit and eat and drink here, etc. Comfortable. We lived our lives together at work, went home, and told funny things that happened on the next shift. We care about each other, but keep our lives in a separate little box. Work and life sometimes overlap, which can be pretty cool.

So now I am telling the stories again. New audience, new reactions and questions. The questions can be hard. Not therapy hard, but the things like “I can’t believe you’re still single. Why?” kind of questions. I don’t know why, nobody asked me to get married, I guess. That is my pretty standard answer, it puts the onus on someone else, off of me. I tell some of the stories of how I lost my parents, who my siblings are, and old work stories which are always entertaining. So we get to know each other, and a little understanding grows, and I get a new work family. That is going fairly well, I am working in a place that cares about the people, the people care about each other, and it is a good atmosphere. But it is hard, because I have to look at myself. Make sure they see enough, but not so much that the cracks show.

We all have cracks. I guess that is the point. In the movie, Will thinks he is hiding his cracks pretty well. He is sure trying to hide them from Skylar, but Sean isn’t having that. Of course that is his job, but then he has to look at his own cracks too. You can polish that surface, the parts you put out there for public consumption, but the cracks will rise up if you don’t treat them properly. Hiding them isn’t dealing with them. It’s time to turn it around and ask and answer the questions. Tell your story. We are all supposed to be the hero of our own story, as we are told often, but what nobody tells you is that all heroes have flaws. It’s part of the plot, it’s built into the storyline. I have been telling the parts of the story here, a little bit, but I think I have to start looking at the cracks a little harder before something drops and I shatter into little pieces. I am trying to work on it, I can do better. I think a lot of us need that. It’s why people become obsessed with other subjects, like politics, working out, eating a certain way, all things that will shift that focus off your cracks and make people think you have it all together.

How is your story? Is it funny, or sad, maybe thrilling or a docudrama? It is your story, and you can make it interesting, or it can become a bedtime story. The plot may twist, it can shift at any given time. And you can be the hero, with the built in flaws, but if you are afraid nobody is interested in your story, you are wrong. As we are all telling a story. Everyone of us. And we are enjoying the plot, we are a character in the story, even if it is just as a minor co-star in the ending credits. Tell your story. I promise someone wants to hear it.

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