I really enjoy listening to National Public Radio. One of my very favorite features on Morning Edition is StoryCorps, which I often catch on Friday mornings on my drive to work. There is hardly a time I listen to StoryCorps and not end up with watery eyes. It’s a cold coming on, right???
StoryCorps is the brainchild of journalist David Isay, and is a collection of 50,000 interviews that he has conducted over the past ten years. The interviews document a conversation between two friends, co-workers, married couples or relatives…….in which they tell an important life story, how they helped each other, and what they mean to each other. On NPR, we hear about 5 minutes of a 40 minute interview – and the full interviews are stored in the Library of Congress for future generations to hear. You can listen to some of the stories at the StoryCorps website. One of my VERY favorites is interview 344…..with Wil Smith (not the actor), and his daughter Olivia.
The similarities among the StoryCorps stories are this: one member of the pair wishes to thank the other for the very important role that he/she has played in that person’s life. In many cases, someone’s presence and availability has allowed the other to persevere and flourish, and to get to the point they are at today.
These are ordinary people, like you and me, doing extraordinary, or maybe not so extraordinary acts for others. It could be big……like giving up a kidney for a transplant…..but many of the stories are just about BEING THERE and believing in the other, or accepting them for who they are so that they could find their own voice.
We are the extraordinary people in these every-day stories. We are the parents who sit in the rain at soccer games, the grown-up children who take our parents to doctors’ visits, the band teachers who find the perfect instrument for a student who then discovers a passion, the friends who make meals for friends who are ill. We are the coaches who reach out to the child who is not part of the group, the troop leaders who encourage a scout to aim for a big goal, the moms who listen to their child’s friends over grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup at the kitchen counter. We are the givers.
And we are the receivers. A boss who saw us patiently and compassionately through a tough personal time, a sibling who took care of us when there were difficulties at home, the friend who stood up to someone who was being a bully, the mentor who helped us find a career choice which turned out to be the perfect fit.
When is the right time to tell that person how they have influenced your life trajectory? How about now? It is always the right time to say thank you, express appreciation, articulate the impact they have had on you. Tell them where you are today because of them.
Yet, it is not always easy to express feelings. And some relationships have not had a track record of having face-to-face, “deep” discussions – one or both parties might be uncomfortable. So what else can you do?
Write it down. Attach a message to a flowering plant. Put a note in a giant heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie. Find or take a picture of you and that special person and frame it for them….and be sure to make an extra for you too! Make a photo album book on Snapfish or another website. Listen to some StoryCorps interviews or read one of Isay’s books for inspiration – such as Ties that Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps.
Today is the day.