We are all storytellers, though we don't usually identify that way. And we all love stories, stories of deep delight.
Dinners, campfires, coffee shops. These are all great hosts for stories, but they aren't the most common, nor are they the most powerful.
Every human being owns two soft spots where they host storytellers. I'm convinced that one such spot is after they've finished a presentation, the half-hour after a performance north of a trainwreck but south of a home run. I don't know about you, fellow human, but my cheeks become red and I suddenly become a 1st grader all over again--cookies and milk in tow, sitting criss-cross-applesauce--anxiously awaiting for someone to tell me a story about who I am and what I'm really made of.
Now, actually, I lied. To varying degrees of desperation, we are always unwitting hosts to storytellers. The sun shines a little brighter when I pass a stranger who looks me in the eye and smiles. I'm a sour-patch kid if it's just him and I passing, and he suddenly becomes too fascinated by the ground to acknowledge my existence.
I can tell you what it felt like to be broken up with over text twice with Stephen King vividness. But as a rickety 17-year old, I can also tell you what it meant to be asked about my dreams for the first time. One tells a story of a gangly blonde boy who's too boring to peer down any further. I'm still a gangly blonde boy in the other, but the question itself foreshadows an untold goodness beneath all the layers of Abercrombie and Old Spice. (Sooooo many layers.)
We are too often the self-absorbed protagonists of our own stories to see our supporting role in dozens of others around us. We play Frodo in one story and Gandalf in seven others. And though I can't dismiss the power of crafting our own stories, your ability to tell me my story is the most powerful thing about you. Your myriad glances, your body language, your eye contact, your careful untangling of my doubts, your clarifying questions, your quiet affirmations, your semi-hidden delight: you're a storyteller, and by your words I might just become myself again.
When I get grumpy, frumpy, or generally just anything that ends with -umpy, it's a good thing to remember I'm at my best when I draw out the beauty and truth in other people's stories. And maybe if we make it our aim to be about other's stories, we'll get a glimpse of some silly and successive truths: that my story never looks quite right until yours does, that there is actually is no such thing as 'mine' and 'yours' in our story anyway, and all of us secretly want a rewrite and the pen is just in the reach of a Protagonist much bigger, much kinder, and much more creative than we care to see otherwise.
photo credit: wifey, the best storyteller I know