A small group of us have been Zooming once a week during the various lockdowns. An idea which came up was for each of us to tell the story of our life. I didn’t much respond to this; I couldn’t imagine how my life could possibly interest anyone.
When my turn came I dutifully sat down to make some notes. As I wrote stories popped out. I began to listen to my stories; things done well, things done badly. Joys, sadnesses. How did these events shape me?
Here’s an example:
I’d been to a board of trustees in North London to do a days training. A couple of weeks later the chair of the board calls and asks to visit me. I imagined there were problems I could help solve, me being the great charity problem solver (irony). He duly arrived; I took him for a walk along the seafront. He began to talk, and talk, and talk. Now to my shame I’m not always good at picking up signals, but this time to my credit I did. I realised he hadn’t come to share his problems, but rather to share his life. He needed to tell his story to someone, and he trusted me to tell it to.
So for several hours I kept my mouth shut tight and listened. And listened. He told me pretty much everything, the good, the bad, the ugly. How many of us have this unrequited need to tell our story to, before it’s too late. Lord forgive me my impatience, and lack of understanding.
Have you ever considered writing out the story of your life? Lockdown’s your opportunity. Go and write down your story. Not to publish. If I publish mine, people dear to me could get hurt, and I don’t want that. Having said that some of my children may want to see it, which might mean removing some of the sensitive bits. If you write it out and send it me, I promise to read it. If you have to do it verbally, I’m up for that also.
I’m reminded of lines from Yeats,
’’Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half light. I would spread the cloths under your feet; But I being poor have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’’.
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