From the first moment of cognizance in our lives, we are collecting stories. This is usually referred to as “making memories”, but it’s the same thing. You may or may not think of yourself as a storyteller, but every time you recall a memory and share it with another person, every time you recount an experience that you’ve had, you are one.
My grandmother lived for 93 years, and she had a myriad of diverse and unique experiences during her lifetime, but in her quest to forget the many hardships and disappointments she had faced, she never lent me – she never lent anyone – so much as a glimpse into her past. She never spoke about her childhood or her parents. She never spoke about raising her daughter, or what my mother was like as a child. These chapters of her life were not just closed to me, she didn’t share them at all.
And then she passed away, and I lost her.
Although she is gone, I still have the memories of the time we spent together, all of the many moments, and these have become a part of my own story collection. But all of the rest of her history: her growing up, her young adulthood, her life… those are lost forever because they were never shared.
Whether we choose to write our stories or speak them aloud, it is the existence of an audience which allows them to gain resonance and significance beyond their contribution to our own singular perspective. It is the fact that someone has heard them that allows them to live on.
Each of us is a human library, housing the archives of the collected stories from all of our years of living. And, as with a traditional library, the collection can only be deeply cherished, its value only truly realized, in the sharing of them.