Gave some guidance to a new Toastmaster over lunch today. In the process I was reminded that we all have a story to tell.
Over lunch I got to know to Christine who is new to Toastmasters. She comes to the organization with the goal of conquering her fear about speaking in front of strangers. With that she hopes to start speaking to parent groups to ease parents’ concerns about their children’s math anxiety. Her resume includes many years teaching and currently tutors in mathematics.
Over iced coffee we talked about goals. And as the noodle soup was served, we talked about stories.
We talked about the story she is writing. We talked about our shared passion for reading stories aloud to our kids. We talked about how her kids speak to each other in stories, although they are grown.
Then we talked about her story, given as a speech the other day. A story of how she found her father.
Christine is a native of Germany. When she lived there she was contacted by an “old man” from Poland. He was the only living person from the Polish town from which her father’s family originated.
She spoke of the efforts she put into learning the Polish language. She spoke of her travel to this small town, long abandoned by the people of that time due to the war. She spoke of her meeting with this old man. She spoke of how she heard, through the imperfect ear of a non-native listener, his stories of the people of this town. And through these, she “found” her father.
It was the first time she told this story outside her family. And she confessed that it was all she could do to keep the tears from flowing as she spoke.
I do not remember all the details due to my own imperfect ear, but maybe that is not important. What I will remember is how that story made me feel. It was touching and compassionate. It was a story of discovery. I felt the struggle of another generation in another time.
We all have a story to tell. The feelings we convey to others through the lens of our personal experience gives a deeper understanding of the world around us. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes moving, our stories can inspire or take us to another place. Or another time.
Those stories are all around us, in each one of us. We just have to tell them.