Everyone Has a Story to Tell

My book club friends and I were drinking wine and talking about This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. In the first few chapters she talks mostly about being a writer. At one point she mentions people who ask her to write "their book," and discusses whether everyone has (at least) one book in them.

Many people seem to believe this idea. Patchett does not, and elaborates by explaining that not everyone has the same creative endeavors within them, nor are they expected to. For example, not everyone has a painting, or a quilt, or parenthood, or a great lasagna recipe just waiting to burst upon society.

When people describe having a book within that someone should write, I think they really mean they have a story to tell. And there are as many ways to tell a story as there are people yearning to have witnesses to their lives. That is the heart of this need.

Most human beings feel the need to be immortalized. To feel that someone has witnessed our existence, has empathized with our struggles and victories, has journeyed--at least partway--with us as we walk the narrow, fragile bridge of the world. We feel the need to be connected to others and to know that, when we die, our stories will have mattered and will not be forgotten.

But each of us must struggle to find our own path to storytelling, to find the most personally authentic ways of sharing our stories, just as we must walk the narrow bridge of the world with our own lives.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) said, the trick is to walk it with courage.