The wealth in our stories

May 31, 2023 | Insights

There is a vast amount of wealth in our stories, not least because simply telling your story can have an impact on the lives of others.
There were ten or eleven groups of people sitting at tables on the pavement, all customers of the coffee shop in York where I sat waiting to meet my wife after her dental appointment.

With time on my hands, I wondered about the others sitting there in the warm May sunshine. No one seemed conventional or ordinary, and I am sure everyone had a fantastic story to tell. I wondered, with genuine curiosity, what those stories were and what I could have learnt from them.

Everyone has a story.

Two middle-aged men were discussing something heatedly; I am not sure what. Were they friends, lovers, business partners or academics from York University?

Another couple took a table with two teenage boys and a companion in her mid-twenties. The boys were too old to be the couple’s children, and anyway, their dress, deportment and attitude (respectful but wary) suggested they were not part of the family. But, again, I wondered about their story. Were the couple looking after two overseas students or young people in care?

The couple sitting at the adjacent table were so unlike each other they could have come from opposite ends of the earth, and there appeared to be some friction between them. I have no idea why they ended up sitting at a table on a pavement in York at midday on a Wednesday morning, but their story must have been worth listening to.

And I wondered at the couple behind me who made no effort to move their chairs to make room for Clang to sit down when she arrived.

The wealth in our stories will make an impact.

I could not help but reflect on the wealth of stories surrounding me and how much I could have learnt about other people, their lives and their homes, such as the story of the lady who looked after us.

She told us she loved working at the coffee shop (and indeed, she and her fellow staff members were all happy and helpful). She told us how she also ran a yoga and manicurist business. And then she told us about her three children. The youngest was twelve, and she devoted the rest of her time to nurturing, supporting and protecting him. She dreaded the day he would leave home because she would miss him desperately and be out of a “job”.

Her story told us that the café was a great workplace and explained the excellent food and great service, encouraging us to return. Had we lived in York, we would probably have asked for her business contact details and joined her yoga classes. And her story of bringing up three children reassured me that empty nest syndrome is a challenge for which people need help.

There is a vast amount of wealth in our stories, not least because simply telling your story can have an impact on the lives of others.

Photo attribution

Photo by John McFetridge on Unsplash

Audio link

https://audio.com/jeremy_deedes/story-wealth/

T‌aking it further

So much has been written about the importance of stories it is a challenge to know where to begin. However, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a good place to start. Also try James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough. Brené Brown makes your story the centrepiece of her book Rising Strong

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Your views are important, and your fellow readers would love to hear your opinion, so share your thoughts in the comments box below, and thank you for your time and generosity.

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