Every day we walk or drive past countless numbers of people without communicating with them in any meaningful way. That’s perfectly natural. It would be impossible to get anything done if we stopped to have intense conversations with everyone we encountered.
But lately I have been viewing all these strangers with fresh eyes. That’s because I’ve participated in a few storytelling events by a meet up group here in Seattle called Fresh Ground Stories. The stories that are told at this event have to be true and personal, and boy, are they ever.
We all look at a people without speaking to them and tend to make certain assumptions, but this group demonstrates loudly and clearly that there is much more to people than meets the eye. Whether it’s the petite young girl who had been abused by her father all her life and then finally confronted him as an adult, or the guy who made a documentary about a quirky homeless man, or the transgender woman who had struggled to feel accepted all her life, or the man who lost 100 pounds and overcame social anxiety, every person has a story, and often it’s a fascinating one.
Now when I see strangers on the street, I kind of have regrets. I may be passing over someone who has an amazing history that would enrich my life in its very telling. That guy might have been in the crowd when President Kennedy was assassinated. That lady might be the daughter of a suffragette. I’ll never know.
As I go about my daily business these days, people seem to have more density, more substance to them. I often think, “What’s your story?” I wish I had time to hear them all.