Everybody Has a Story – Everyone is Worth Knowing

I have always enjoyed talking to people, anybody who has ever met me would tell you I am outgoing, loquacious and talk a mile a minute; however, I appreciate the background and stories of others more than I do my own. My mantra has long been “Everybody has a story, and everyone is worth knowing.”
I believe the world is an interestingly diverse place and the people and their stories, their lives are what make each of our lives enriched. As we encounter one another and share our experiences, we enhance each other’s existences.
It is easy to walk past somebody day after day and ignore them; snubbing them because they are, perhaps, in a different societal class than you, because they are homeless, or maybe due to an invisible line that should not be crossed. Yet, when you take the time to talk to the awkward man who cannot seem to ever say the right thing when he is in a group of people, or the milquetoast at the gym, or the high strung blue collar worker from the opposite side of the plant where you work you may find they have fascinating stories they are willing to share if somebody is there to listen.
The stories that have been shared with me have been tragic, heart-warming, funny, sad, scary and assorted. While most of what I have learned is likely to be construed as anti-climactic everyday anecdotes of life, but each time I listen, watching hand gestures, sometimes tears (even from the hardest of men) and smiles, I am warmed that they chose to share with me.
I have previously opined how people have commented they feel comfortable sharing their secrets with me, and others have noticed and are amazed how I know so much about so many seemingly arbitrary people in my life, even peripheral people, those I should know almost nothing about.
Often times, I have wondered if those who felt comfortable sharing with me have looked back and remembered me since our conversations; I have a tendency to live like the tide, there is an ebb and flow to my existence. I am there, and then I am gone. So it goes, so it goes.
The other day I read a Freshly Pressed blog about a woman who had a life-changing experience with a homeless man; she looked into his eyes, determined he probably had a story, they made a connection, and he later came back to thank her for making him feel human. While few of my stories are anywhere near Movie of the Week or life changing such as hers, I give everything to everyone I listen to, offering anything I have.
Emotionally. Mentally. Caring. I welcome everyone back to the well as long as I am around. I have had varied life experiences and can usually find something to apply to any given situation. If not, I can listen; most people are happy to have an audience and to be heard.
If I could, I would spend my days walking the streets, talking to everybody I meet; the homeless, teenagers, angry drivers, anybody willing to tell me their story. I know at one time in their life somebody loved them, somebody wanted them; they were a baby, a lover or spouse, daughter or son, father or mother… they have a story, and they deserve to be known.

19 thoughts on “Everybody Has a Story – Everyone is Worth Knowing

  1. I think I have a different approach to the same thing, maybe I just label it differently. I have the sense that everyone I meet can teach me something if there is just time and opportunity to learn. This even extends to things I consider myself expert at, such as playing the piano. I am constantly learning new things from my students that I did not know. (Here I go writing my blog for tomorrow once again. You are my muse, or do I steal your ideas?)

    Some of what you speak of is simply paying attention as so many are open enough but are too frequently ignored. So often I have watched two people talk to each other and seem to be having two different conversations with each in turn simply waiting their turn to speak without really listening to the other person. So often what we need is to be heard and even better to be understood. How often do people actually listen to each other instead of simply waiting their turn? When I listen intently I often forget what I was going to say next because in the context of what the other person was saying my next thought became outside the stream of discourse.

    Listening can be faked. I once formed a theory that proved to be very powerful and I feel bad about doing it. If you repeat the important sounding words the other person not only thinks you are paying attention but that you are both understanding and agreeing. Once while I was working for General Motors a strange guy sat down across from me and started talking about an engine. I knew absolutely nothing about what he was talking about. It amused me to watch his animated excitement as he rambled on as I repeated certain words, “. . . carburetor . . . solenoid . . . points . . .” And on and on. He suddenly got up very pleased and rushed off. He returned a couple minutes later with another stranger in tow and he pointed between myself and this other person and excitedly said, “Tell him! Tell him!” I hadn’t understood a word and now I’m expected to convincingly repeat what guy #1 had just told me. I looked at guy #2, pursed my lips together, raised my eyebrows, and nodded knowingly. Guy #2 exclaimed, “Fuck!” and stormed off. Guy #1 then turned to me with delight and said, “Thanks, man, I thought he was full of shit but I wasn’t sure!” and off he went. If called up on any specific point I would have been revealed as a complete asshole, which I was just then.

    Somewhere in there is how powerfully important it is to have someone listen to you. That was the only time I ever used that technique except for demonstration and even after telling someone what I’m doing they get very engaged once they get talking. I guess I should not share this with anyone because of the hurt and sense of betrayal and insult it can cause, but it is such a cool thing and kind of reveals how much we perceive is really just illusion.

    • Sir,
      I know what you mean; I used to have a very bad habit of interrupting people. It has been explained to me by several people (therapists) that I have always had such a need to be heard, so I feel as if I need to speak quickly and often for fear of not getting my story told.

      However, when I finally relaxed and started to allow others to speak, I realized how fascinating they are; how much I enjoy listening to them, and how much I want to take the entire world and swaddle it in a huge comfy blanket. Regardless of how cold, uncaring, and flat some people find me, I truly am very compassionate and soft.

      I can see how your “trick” may work on people; it is similar to the mirroring used in writing cover letters today. Workforce development experts all recommend applicants use the most important words from job placement ads in a cover letter. Though, since everybody does it, I don’t see how it’s relevant anymore… but, a resume, interview, and hiring process is all smoke and mirrors. Until an employee starts working for you, you really have no idea… but, I digress…

      And, I don’t mind if we share ideas, Sir… whether I am your muse, or you are mine…

      Always, Me

      • I do hope your readers don’t mind my sometimes long rants. That thought has given me pause in spite of your warm reaction. I do not want to drive away anyone who would otherwise benefit from the wonderful thing you do here. Your “venting” sometimes heals things in me I was not aware of.

      • I cannot imagine anybody would mind. But, that is just me…

        One would assume if they were only interested in the original posting, they would simply stop reading at that point; then move on to something else. I think we are safe in our volleying.

        Always, Me

  2. Nice blog! I make an effort to always remember to look people in the eye and smile. My smile may be the only one they get to see that day. And ideally, they smile to the next, etc. I’ve long believed every individual I encounter has a lesson for me. Listening is powerful.

    • It is… I used to talk way more than I listened. I have learned that I am not the most interesting person in the world; I love the rich lives of people, even the mundane; when you pay attention long enough, and their lives unfold, it is so beautiful.

      Thank you for reading.

      Always, Me

  3. You are a really good listener. We all wish to have someone listen to our stories though we rarely have interest and time to do it for others. This post has inspired me and I wish to share it with my students.

  4. I loved this! I think I may have told you before but my dream would be to follow around a program called “If You Only Knew Me” they go around and bring different kids together at schools. Their purpose is to draw a metaphoric line and throw out different situations of how each side had been touched by the very same situation as they walk toward the line… in the end, seeing how similar their lives truly are. They they get in groups and say things like… “If you only knew me, today I didn’t have breakfast because there is no food in our house.” etc… and it may be the tough kid who bullies everybody or the victim… But just knowing where they come from helps attach a face onto a life that the other may not have considered. I love your heart.
    I also love that I am among the ones you KNOW considers you more than flat! ( I just saw that!!!)
    Great post as usual!

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