Telling the Story

So here’s the thing. People have been asking me to write a blog for years. I resisted, mostly for fear of “trying to do what everyone else was doing.” It seemed like every other day someone was announcing, with much self-fanfare, their new blog. I’ve never wanted to be one of the kids who was doing what all the other kids were doing… therefore, I have stayed away from blogging.

Of course, we are now in the year 2013. It’s not new and exciting anymore. Some people that announced their blog in 2007 still write about the mundane details of everyday life (I made coffee today. It was good). Others wrote exactly 3 blogs and gave up, fatigued by the mental strain (at least, I imagine this to be the case). At this point in time, I feel like I can slip in the back door, unnoticed, and start doing my own thing.

But why? Why start now? The answer, quite simply, is the Story.

Every year, right before Christmas break, I have my students do a reflection on the year that was. I ask them to think about the things they accomplished, and the areas they hope to improve. I ask them to look to the future and determine how they might use what they have learned in the last year as they become who they are meant to be. The explanation I offer them? Capturing their Story.

The last question I ask on that reflection sheet is “What is the most memorable moment from our class so far this year?” This is asked of both my AP Economics students (mostly juniors and seniors operating at a high academic level) and my World History students (9th graders still trying to adjust to high school). I would venture to say that 90% of them responded with some form of “the stories”.

For example, one student said, “Your story about the Black Friday fight at Wal-Mart was hilarious, but it helped me to understand supply and demand a lot better.”

Or another student, who said, “The story about the medicine your wife needed during her pregnancy – I will never forget the elasticity of demand after that…”

Or one of my freshman, who said, “The stories… man, you’ve lived a crazy life!!!”

The thing is I haven’t lived a crazy life – not by any measure! I guarantee that, if you are reading this, you have probably lived a crazier life than I have. But, crazy or not, I have made it an absolute point to remember all the little stories… because these are what make up the Story of my life. These stories explain who I am and will be. They are the very flavour of my life, and how I relate to the others in it.

Let’s be honest: most of us don’t have time for story-telling, and I think that is a shame. Our lives are consumed with surviving the day-to-day grind, which in my opinion has been made worse by the proliferation of technology that promised to save time but instead has consumed the few free moments we had left. We fritter our lives away, and fail to capture the moments that have true meaning – the moments that make us who we are and can help improve the lives of those around us.

The problem is that the ingredients we are putting into lives are important, but not flavourful. We are all work, work, work, with some time left over for trying to make sure our family functions on some basic level. We are all flour, water, oil, and eggs… oh, we can bake a cake, but it’s not something anyone would want, that’s for sure. But EVERY SINGLE DAY we have an opportunity to add some ingredients to the cake that would make it so much better… every day SOMETHING happens that is worth remembering – forever! Every day, you and I have the opportunity to add apple and cinnamon, or chocolate and sugar to our cake, but we fail to do so. Heck, even the bad days offer memories that can drastically alter the recipe of our life – if we would only take the time to record it in our memory.

For example, what did you do on Friday night? Pick out a moment that remains clear in your mind. Difficult, no? Luckily, Friday night was only a few hours ago – if you think really hard, you can remember something… but if you don’t fix that memory in your mind soon, February 22, 2013 will have passed you by, another flavourless day in a lifetime of flavourless days. For me, I will always remember laying on the floor with my Reagy watching a movie, and having her put her arm around my head and squeeze it tightly and say, “thanks for laying here with me, daddy.” Is that a huge story to remember? No, absolutely not. But my February 22 counts for something now… something memorable.

So the reason I have decided to blog is to share the Story. It might be that no one is interested in the little stories that make up my life, and I’m ok with that (not really – I’m a sensitive chap, but I have a reputation to uphold, you know?). But what I do hope is that my telling stories here will help you to be inspired to keep your stories close to your heart, and to share them whenever possible. Story telling is humankind connecting at the most basic level, a lost skill that isn’t difficult to recover. I truly look forward to telling some stories together.

Some thoughts and disclaimers:

  • I have no idea how often I will do this. My goal is 20 for 2013. We shall see if that truly happens.
  • Some of my best stories will not appear here, as they are best shared under the cloak of anonymity. Sorry! Maybe one day!
  • I’m not 100% sure it will be just stories. I might throw some opinion pieces in here or there. If I do so, it will be for the purpose of engaging in meaningful dialogue, not “I’m right, you’re an idiot”. I think most of you know me well enough to know that even if I take a position, I am always willing to see the other perspective. My Grandma always said “don’t talk about religion and politics”… but that really narrows our list of topics, now doesn’t it? So again, if I do go down this road, I do so with an open mind and ready to have reasonable, if heated, discussions. (Unless your FB user name has a religion in it. Then, I might not be willing to listen, but only if you’ve sent me a personal message that says I am going to Hell.)
  • I’m prone to meander, and often wordy (1200 words and still going…), but I still hope you can walk away from reading these and smile, and then get busy adding the flavourful moments to your cake. And if not a single person gets anything from this blog, I will have a recipe book that I can consult continually. I’m totally fine with that.
  • Finally, I have been reading 4 blogs these last few years that have given me the impetus to actually start this. Thank you for your inspiration Dawn, Lisa, Shari, and Nicole…Image
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8 Responses to Telling the Story

  1. Kimberly Ervin says:

    I look forward to hearing your stories! And your opinions =)

  2. Kristen says:

    I’m already inspired. Totally can relate to the flavorless cake these days. My goal: do at least one small thing each day with at least one of my kids that goes beyond the basic ingredients.

  3. My friend, I look forward to following your blog and partaking in the flavoring. You are so right, we waste so much time these days doing nothing. Hopefully all who read will be inspired to flavor and remember in their lives just a little bit more.

  4. David says:

    I will read your blog, my furry friend, and may your efforts be blessed. As it is written: “we spend our years as a tale that is told”; our life, a string of stories.

  5. J. Larson says:

    Thanks Derek! I’ve always enjoyed your writing..still have your poem about Farmor! Very inspiring piece..

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