Jul 13, 2011

Everybody Has a Story

My friend, Todd, maintains that there are no ordinary people. Everybody has a story and, given a couple of hours and a few cameramen, he believes he can coax that story out and expose an extraordinary person pretending to be ordinary. He's gone so far as to bet his proverbial farm on the idea and now has his own show, The Story Trek.  He picks a random person who gives him a random direction and a random house and he tries to get himself invited in so he can get the story. He has had some pretty incredible experiences in his travels.

I have wondered how he has gotten so lucky as to stumble into the home of a WWII veteran or an immigrant from Russia or a number of inspiring and incredible people. I finally decided it was simply good editing and he's a liar when he says it's all random. Meanwhile, I sit in my office and meet different people every day. Ordinary, average people like the ones next door. But I realized Todd might be onto something. People love to talk about themselves if you show interest. So while Todd is traveling across the country, tracking down intriguing people, intriguing and inspiring people are walking into my office on their own accord. They are inspiring and provide something I need that day.

  • Mr. D is from Haiti and the father of 6 children. He came with one of his sons to register for school. I wondered what brought him to Utah. It was the dream of a Ph.D. He attended BYU and needed a dissertation. After much research, he settled on the small task of organizing a non-profit organization that provided humanitarian aide. With Haiti's political tumult, it was impossible to breach the borders so he settled for the Dominican Republic. Every 6 months he takes time off his regular scheduled job and goes with a team of doctors, dentists, and other volunteers for ten days to serve the people of the DR.
  • I mentioned he has six children. One of his daughters is in medical school preparing to be a humanitarian physician. Another is still in high school and registered with her mother earlier this week. Mrs. D shared with me a small portion of the devastation wreaked in the earthquake. Her father still lives in Haiti. He could barely speak as he told her of the bodies littering the buildings, streets. The cries that rang in constant misery. Then the more horrifying sound of their silence. She estimates that 200 million have died as a result of the earthquake. 
  • Lin's mother lived in a small village in Cambodia. Her father was a political leader. Her mother was an educated school teacher. They learned to blend into the background and pretend to be illiterate. Eventually the family had to leave Cambodia. By this time Lin's oldest sister was a year old. His mother carried the baby, keeping her as quiet as possible as they escaped Cambodia.
  • Today a grandmother tearfully shared the horrific accident that damaged her granddaughter's leg while she was standing on a sidewalk. The accident would have killed the girl if her friend had not grabbed her and pulled her away from the twisting metal. Both girls were 14 years old at the time. When the doctor conceded he would have to amputate a couple of toes, the granddaughter was distraught. Later, when the doctor conceded he would have to amputate the leg, her friends wailed. The granddaughter calmly accepted the news and comforted her friends. She found strength and lifted up others.
  • A mother needed help with her daughter's education. She was quarantined in a hospital with no white blood cells and fighting leukemia with the help of some deadly chemicals. Arrangements were made for a school official to drive to the hospital with a computer and testing material so she could finish her credits in time for graduation. She was cleared for graduation by her doctor but ordered to wear a mask. Mortifying as it was, she agreed. Partway through the graduation ceremony, there was a rustle. When parents looked down at their graduating children, they became somewhat indistinguishable. Every single graduate donned a hospital mask in silent support of their classmate.
  • Today I met a girl who is committed to graduating early and willing to attend summer school all day every day in order to provide for her brand new baby. Her daughter is 2 weeks old. I'll admit that I stole the baby for a few minutes from her grandmother just so I could smell her and kiss her tiny head. I do that kind of stuff.
So I'll keep my secret from Todd. I'm collecting stories and those stories are changing my life. I'm not hiring cameramen or spending days editing. I'm quietly cataloging the inspiration these people are providing me and weaving what I learn into my life. They are resilient, strong, full of faith and inspire me to be better. I am reminded that something bigger is at work and He is working for my good. 

A little post script to this post is that everybody has a story. In order for some of these stories to be told and broadcast on cable television, certain losses had to occur a couple of decades ago. There was a high school football player who took a helmet to the side of his knee, blowing all dreams of a possible football future. He wallowed then grudgingly tried his hand at drama which eventually planted the idea of broadcast journalism leading to a career at a local news station where he dabbled with the idea of wearing people down until they talked. It worked. And now he has his own cable show.


Countess Laurie said...

I really don't have a story. Truly. My life is mundane but I like it that way...

But your post moved me to tears. In the middle of a sales meeting with 30 other people...

The Mecham Family said...

I agree with Countess Laurie, I don't know that I have a story either. But maybe I need to work on that!
Your post was very inspiring. Thank yoU!

Tiffany said...

Oh man, you moved on to uplifting and I'm still stuck on snarky...

Thanks for the 5 minute reprieve from my bad attitude! :)

Kat said...

That was so wonderful to read! There are so many things to learn from other people if we would take the time to listen! Thanks for the reminder!

SupaFlowaPowa said...

I don't have a story but those were so inspiring. now I'm wondering why I don't know as many cool stories from folks, is it I'm not asking? or they're not telling?

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M-Cat said...

Love the post and moved to tears.

I agree that everyone has a story. Even if they think they don't, they have a story and it's always fun to learn them

Riahli said...

I've always loved hearing peoples stories {I'm also a bit of a people watcher, which drives my husband bonkers, but I often find people so interesting.} I love the show your friend has, watched it all through the kids nap today, shed a few tears as well. Your stories in this post are inspiring as well. There is so much to learn if we just stop and listen.

BTW you need to stop by my blog, the {baby} girl is still totally adorable although slightly more sassy as well. :)