There’s so much we can learn from each others’ life experiences. That’s why I’ve always loved documentaries, programs like Point of View, Independent Lens, and New York Time’s One in a Million. I especially find it an honor when a person entrusts me with their life history. But the story that interests me the most of all everyday human stories is that of my mom. She’s a very private person so it’s a significant moment when she opens up to me. During college, I began writing her stories down immediately after our conversations, so as not to forget those important details, of her childhood, of her struggles, of the lessons she’s learned.
As I age, and more importantly, as my family age, I feel a much greater need to document the fleeting moments, to preserve my mom’s childhood stories she shares with me – of how as a young child, she used to walk without a winter coat (she didn’t own one) to a missionary church everyday, with her legs deep in the snow to receive a large bag of food donations to feed her recently widowed mother and six siblings. I feel the need to preserve such stories, because it’s not just her life story, it’s my story, and ultimately the family story that I will pass on to my children and grandchildren.
That’s why I’m intrigued by StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor lives through listening. Since 2003, over 50,000 everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the Library of Congress. If you live in New York, like my tumbling partner Erika, the StoryBooth is ongoing and located in downtown Manhattan. The cost is a $25 or more donation. Otherwise, keep an eye on their mobile tour locations. Call to schedule an appointment. Read more details on dates and times and what to expect. Check out their FAQ or follow their blog.
I’d love to write a memoir one day, but starting with a simple storytelling session could be a good, inspirational beginning.