Saturday, February 6, 2016

Everyone Has A Story

Tom announces he might move to Panama after he checks it out on an upcoming visit.

I mention this to Tom's girlfriend and she rolls her eyes. "Everyone has a story."

Peter in the corner pipes up, "When I was a little kid, I was going to run a light house when I grew up."

"See, everyone has a story!" Tom's girlfriend exclaims.

This opens up a whole new window into my past stories-- I once decided to become a pedodentist-a child's dentist. My office was going to have a yellow brick road that little patients would joyfully follow to the dentist chair.  I also planned on becoming an astronaut, until I got nauseous in airports.

One of my stories jumped from a Christmas story I wrote. The teacher thought it was worthy to read in front of the class, and when she finished, I felt a little mouse of glee run up my body until--my fellow first graders turned around and said, "Your mother wrote that story."

I was shocked at their accusation of plagiarism, and I didn't refute it--instead, I basked in their ill-assumption. It meant the story was good, and therefore, a writer was born.

It's a story I kept. And became.

Deb and I are fortunate to teach a new class this semester: storytelling. I can't take credit for this class--it was Deb's pipe dream. When I first heard her proposal, I thought, Hmmm, now that's interesting.

And it is.

Because we become our stories, and our class is a chance to help students become.

Mandi (daughter #2), since the 7th grade, decided she wanted a PHD. At the time, it was cute, and over the next ten years it continued to be her story. She graduated from college, applied to graduate school, moved to Illinois on a full graduate scholarship, and three years ago, I sat in a stadium and watched my daughter receive her PHD in School/Child Psychology. Her persistence and dedication made her story come true---or did her story supply the persistence and dedication with the fuel it needed?

With the introduction of Mandi's story, I asked each student to tell his/her own story in one line or less--with the supposition that their one-liners have power to determine the story of their lives.

When I started reading their lines, I saw the power immediately.

 I am a giver
 I've had many families
 As I explore the world, it explores me
 I love to sing
 I have a lot of friends
 I can overcome hard things
 I am a wondering soul
 I am an actor 

Everyone has a story---even you. What is its power in creating who you are and what you want to be?