The best story we never tell: the story of “why”

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We each have a story.  And no matter where we go or what we do, that story will continue to have pages added to it as long as we live.

Some stories are don’t begin well but have the most remarkable ending.  Some stories are covered in filth and still shine.  Some stories are hard to tell, while others are more colorful and paint a prettier picture.  Some stories include many characters while other focus on just a few important people.  Some stories take us all over the world and others stay close to home, with familiarity as our comfort.  Some stories need to be retold because of the valuable lessons provided in them while others should never make a history book.  Some stories captivate us while others are boring and dull.  Some stories are for the record books while others never make news.  Some stories stain us forever, leaving their words with us long after while others are just as quickly forgotten.  Some stories need to be rewritten in a different colored ink — when the ink well has dried up and we can longer use it.  Some stories come with danger, anguish, and despair, while others are littered with safety, love, and privilege.  Some stories are cut short while others live for a much longer time.

But each story has this in common — everything listed above is in EVERY story.

Yesterday, I attended a breakfast with some business leaders, retired educators and other business professionals and I found myself seated between a florist and an architect.  As we casually introduced ourselves and exchanged business cards and made polite chit-chat about the food, I found myself wanted to know more than just what it said on the piece of paper they just handed me — I wanted to know why she was a florist and why he was an architect.  florist flowers

What chapter of their story brought them here?  What steps did they take?  Had they always known they would be here and if not, what pushed them in this direction?  Did they stumble upon these jobs or was there more logic at work?  Were they lucky in that they found good jobs right out of school and never left or did they research the company before their interview?  Did the florist grow up around buds and seeds and did the architect fall in love with the style of buildings when he was younger?  I found myself distracted by these questions that we never would have time to answer, but they were the beginning of even more questions. [bctt tweet=”Our stories are mere questions that we have chosen to answer. #questions #Answer”]

And as we went on our merry ways, I found myself wondering more about the lives of the people I had just spent 2 hours with and realized that we are connected to one another because of our stories.  Our chapters may skip around a bit until we can find a story line that seems to best fit us, but we are never not writing our story.  And it is in the telling of our stories that we begin to understand as we share more of ourselves with one another, we answer the question of “why?” with a simple, “okay.”

But we never really tell the “whole” story, do we?  We never find out the cause that prompted us to be where we are now.  When I moved from Southern California to Nebraska over 25 years ago, people asked me why.  I knew the answer — because my husband was already here and I was pregnant with his child.  But until you know the “why” you try to connect the dots to make them make sense.  Most are very logical, like the example I just used and others will have no visible line to explain how we got from “Point A” to “Point B.” Not every story has a straight line between two points (in fact, most don’t) and there may be pieces that seem to be missing from a story.  But even that gap has a story hidden in it somewhere.

pen and paper writing

What’s YOUR why?  What brought you to this very moment? How has life impacted you on what pen to use and how often you write a page in your story?  Some never seem to get past chapter 1 as they continue to live in the past.  Others can’t wait for the ink to dry before they are off onto the next chapter.  The next time you meet someone for the first time and you get past the nice introductions, ask them to tell you a question that requires more thought — “Why did you choose this profession?”  “What are you excited about in your field of work?” “How can you make a difference?”  

You won’t just hear their story — you will see it in their eyes and their face as they tell you more than you ever thought you could ever know.  And that moment may just embed itself a little into your own story as well.  Because that is what every great story does — it grabs a little but from here and adds it to what it already has and they make each other better…

Find the “why” in every story and you will begin to understand your fellow-man a little better every day.

No story can be erased once it has begun but each one of us can write what happens next. The best writing always comes from our willingness to understand the reason for our story…

Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©


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