I like stories.
Someone wise once shared with me: "Your past is just a story and once you realize this, it has no power over you."
I have this idea...this dream...of a book I'd like to write one day. I want to approach people in the cemetery...random people of all ages and backgrounds...and say, "Tell me your story." Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Tell me a funny memory about them. Tell me something real. I want to know why the old man is visiting a forty year old grave. I want to know why the young girl is weeping at a child's headstone. I want to know how that woman survived the loss of her husband. I want to be a collector of their stories.
People like to tell me their stories. Why? I haven't quite figured that out. But, I'm thankful to be the resting place for their trust. I don't judge their stories. I don't berate their stories. I don't chastise them for their stories. I take their stories in...and they become a part of me. It may not always be a story I want to hear...or a story I want to hold...but I listen and carry it anyway.
This is one of the reasons I love my job. I am around people, all day long, who want to share their story. At their age, they see no reason to hide from their story. They aren't ashamed or scared or unwilling to give this part of themselves. I ask, they answer. It is as simple as that. I don't offer advice...how could I? I have nothing to add to their story. It is theirs...I just listen. Sometimes, that is all that someone needs. To voice and process their story, out loud, without the world weighing in.
Some stories are hard to hear. They are painful and gouge my soul. It is hard not to crush under the weight of those stories. I don't pity the storyteller, but I do have compassion for them. I have respect and admiration for them. I feel special and unworthy to be privy to information that few people know. Why do people trust me with their story?
Because I ask. Tell me your story.
Simply put, I want to know people's stories. I want to know why they have made the decisions they have and why they are the person that they are today. I want to know why a certain scent can send someone back two decades in their memory. I want to know why they flinch, when surprised by someone too close to them. I want to know why they avoid what they avoid and why they embrace what they embrace.
I want to know people. Knowing what makes them cry, what makes them laugh, what makes them angry, what makes them cower in fear...is to understand them. If you understand someone, you can love them...and accept them...and support them, through whatever may come.
Being able to love and accept other people for their stories, allows me to love and accept myself...and my story.
Tell me your story.