As is often my want on this blog, I will tell a story about parenting. My daughter is six years old and she’s pretty goofy—which is fine by me. But there is something she seems to take quite seriously: telling the Truth—with a capital “T”.
Last weekend, my daughter and I were walking home from a trip to the local park and she noticed a robin hopping around the soccer field. I identified the bird, and she started telling a story. The story began in this way:
“One time, when I was at Nana’s (her maternal grandmother), mommy opened up the door and a bird flew in. ‘Cause there’s a nest there.”
“And…” I said, in wanting of the rest of the story.
“So, who caught it?” I asked.
“I don’t remember” she says as she follows the white grass along the soccer border.
“Well, make it up,” I added emphatically.
“But, I don’t remember!”
“Well, you have to have a conclusion. You can’t leave me guessing. You have to leave the story with the reader.”
“Okay. Mommy caught it! And Nana! And Booboo (her maternal grandfather)! And Laura (her aunt)! But that’s not what really happened,” she makes sure to add.
“Yeah, but it’s a way better story. And it has an ending.”
I was struck by this realization: not what we are all telling stories (I mention that a lot on this blog!), but that I want her to tell me a good story. And I want her to be able to tell a good story. In less colloquial terms: I want her to be an orator, an interesting person, someone who understands the essence of an action and its affect; and that’s a story.
That is how we sell ourselves. That is how we wake up in the morning. That is what gets us to bed at night. What story are we telling? How are we telling it? Can we sleep because of it? Or does it keep us awake all night? Is it the one where the guy gets the girl? Is it the one where they are happy? or sad? Is it the one where the girl becomes famous? the guy fights crime? Which one? How are you justifying your life? your decisions? your thoughts?
No matter what it all begins with a single step. And then another. And then another. And then you look back, often way in the distance, and if you are lucky and someone is listening to you, then you have the privilege of saying: “One time, way back there, this happened…”
Thanks everyone for being that person listening.