What Makes a Story?

Written August 7, 2009

Earlier this year, I was invited to write a chapter for the book, The Impulse to Flourish: Women’s Stories That Inspire a Full, Creative Life (yet to be published.)  As I hesitantly embarked on the adventure, I was puzzled with what I could possibly write about that would be interesting to an outside reader.  What exactly was my story?  I mean, I have experienced many things and reached many milestones with education, marriage, motherhood, travels, career, etc., but so has everyone else.  What made my story unique?

I soon realized that most of the things that I found important and worthy of putting in print had very little to do with monumental events. For instance, on my wedding day you’d think I’d remember walking down the aisle or the clinking of toasts or the first dance, but frankly, those pieces are a little blurry.  What I do remember as though it happened a minute ago is how my Aunt Marge hugged me in the receiving line after the ceremony.  It was a firm, full hug that lasted far longer than the others who were trying hard not to connect too much in the 95 degree heat.  It was a hug that radiated her love in such a way that I instantly knew all would be ok and that her love for me was boundless. I have hugged others in the same way ever since then because a simple act 24 years ago taught me that a heart’s truth can be conveyed without words. That’s my wedding day story.

I’m fascinated by the significance of seemingly insignificant events in my own life’s story.  And I’m equally intrigued when I hear others tell the bits and pieces of their own life…the memories that lie between and within the milestone ticks on the timeline of life…what I’ve come to call ‘the true story’.

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