Saturday, May 22, 2010

Everybody's Got a Story

This used to be my favorite news show. A reporter, Steve Hartman, would throw a dart at a map then go to that town, open a phone book at a local phone booth, randomly open a page, then close his eyes and pick a number. His story would be about the person who answered the phone. He wasn't looking for the extraordinary, but he found it. Good or bad, it was always there.

There are some amazing stories from ordinary people in our neighborhoods. Little nuggets of treasure that, if we just stop and talk to people, we could find it. That includes our relatives. My grandmother remembers walking on foot by a wagon when she was four years old. That would have been 1921 or 1922. Her family was moving and ended up close to an indian reservation in Oklahoma. Her job as a four year old was to pick up little pieces of wood for kindling and throw it into a little canopy hanging down under the wagon. Looking at her at the end of her life, one would have never known or even thought to ask about life when she was young.

My new favorite show is now "Who Do You Think You Are?" If you watch it, sit with a box of kleenex, because the stories are truly touching and remarkable. As I said in my previous post, we stand on the shoulders of the generations that came before us, and we live much more comfortably because of the sacrifices they made. It was only two or three generations ago that relatives scrimped and saved for necessities like food, and splurged on things like ice cream or steak. They had hard lives with extremely humble circumstances, yet carried on with dignity and perseverance. Because they stuck it out and worked without seeing much benefit in their generation, they knew enough to know that this generation had a fighting chance.

I'm so grateful for that.

Get to know others' stories. People are fascinating if we just take the time to look.

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