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A Time To Ask and Listen

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One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. ~ B. McGill

One of the highlights of my week is at 6:27am or so on Friday mornings. I do my best to make sure some early chores have been attended to and that my radio is loud enough to be heard over the din of the starting day. Why? Because at 27 minutes past the hour, in the second hour of broadcast, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition airs StoryCorp. I’ll let them tell you who and what they are, “StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”  Big mission. A riveting two and half minutes.

How exactly do they do this? StoryCorp records, in sound booths all over the country, stories that people come in to share. People go to tell a loved one or special person a story about an event or thought that makes them unique and special. The audio editors cut the stories down to two and half minutes or so from what can be a 2 hour conversation between two people. What you get is a connection that indeed usually leaves me feeling like someone has just shared a super valuable part of themselves. You make a connection.

Why do I tell you this? Because in the days ahead you’ll likely be sitting down with family and friends to share a meal, have some laughs, maybe cheer a team. And that would be the most perfect time to ask some questions. Document some history. We all wish to be remembered, to know we have left a mark on this planet. This is a way for you to start to share what it is you feel is most important to pass along.

I recall asking a woman, whose family fled Germany just as the Nazis were rising in power, how they did it. The first round of answers were along the lines of, “My parents set up bank accounts in England and Switzerland. One by one we each got jobs that allowed us to legally leave.” What I realized however is that this was long before the days of electronic bank records. How does one set up a bank account in another country without leaving the country you’re in? Turns out one method is to ask a close and trusted friend to do it for you. You literally hand them a pile of cash, hope they complete the transaction for you and that you have not just handed away your future. Can you hear the history in just those few words?

The asking is might sound easy but it is the listening and pulling more from that answer that requires us to actually tune in, to hear what is being said. It is, literally, the space between stimulus and response where there is growth. Try it out for yourself. Here’s one of the StoryCorp questions from their Great Thanksgiving Listen toolkit, “Tell me about the person who has had the greatest influence on your life. What lessons did they teach you?” In just answering that question for yourself what did you learn?

Please, take some time this coming holiday season and ask some questions. Record their answers on your smartphone or computer; it doesn’t have to be fancy but it is nice to get it down. Here’s a link to get you started: https://storycorps.me/about/the-great-thanksgiving-listen/participate/

Wishing you a wonderful, story enriched Thanksgiving!

~ Lisa

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