Earlier this week I was driving into town to pick up Skip for a sneaky birthday lunch. On the radio was one of my all-time favourites Conversations with Richard Fidler on ABC local radio, which I have listened to whenever I'm able for the past 10 years (if you don't know it, go and podcast it immediately).
The show involves an hour conversation with a person - they could be wildly famous and just mildly interesting. The show this day was about a man who has studied birds for many years, mostly the magpie and brush turkey. This fascinated me as we currently have a brush turkey living in our yard and we recently had to remove almost 2 tonne (yes, tonne) of vegetation matter from its nest. This guy explained all about the huge nests they make. In the midst of my wide-eyed amazement at his tales, I thought "I'm so glad we have people who are so fascinated about this stuff that they spend their lives studying it and sharing what they learnt".
I think that's why I love reading and books and movies and blogs. I love hearing people's stories. Everyone has a story to tell and it's interesting.
I also love hearing people who are passionate and interested about stuff, even if I'm not interested on that topic. I heard Adam Spencer recently talking about maths, and I'm not a maths person and I loved hearing him get excited about numbers and their place in the world. I wished that I had a teacher when I was young who was that passionate and maybe I would be a maths person. The older I get, the more I despise this nonchalant attitude we're all supposed to have, I want to be excited about stuff and I want to hear other people excited about things.
While I was in Dubai, without doubt the best part was the all the people I met and hearing their stories. Whether is was Maria who grew up in Soviet Russia or Aabia who told me what life in Pakistan was like as a woman or the Malaysian couple who ran marathons or Leila and her life in Lebanon. It felt like such a privilege to share in their lives and their stories. And I do miss that. I miss those parent catch-ups that were like the United Nations and the whole world opened up to me. I brought home such a deeper understanding of the world and the lives people live through those conversations.
The thing is we all have stories, unique and important stories. Most people don't think their story is worthy to share and keep it bottled up. Or they make up what they think should be their story.
While looking on the Conversations website, I stumbled across an episode of someone who I sat next to at work for a couple of years. I didn't really know him well, but he was a great writer and he used to make me laugh because when he did speak he'd say "What's is going on? I don't understand any of this?" usually referring to his computer or a work meeting or a comment from a colleague. So it was strange to hear him talk for almost an hour about this amazing story of his family and his childhood. Here I was thinking he was a privileged kid who was a talented writer, but I had no clue he had such a traumatic life.
I'm so thankful for the people who are brave enough to share their stories. There's so much talk about over-sharing these days, that people reveal too much of themselves. I get that. But I think there's a big difference between sharing your story and writing a Facebook update about missing the train. I think people feel comfortable sharing about what they ate for breakfast or what they're doing on the weekend, but people don't want to share what's really interesting or what's really important for fear of not being 'good enough' or feeling ashamed (probably because of all the Facebook updates) or being uninteresting when what they think is uninteresting is the most interesting, because it makes them who they are.
I'm amazed and envious of the artists who can put their stories into songs or words or paintings. I think they're luck that they can share their stories and our stories too. I don't think you have to be an artist to share though. Do you share your story? Who do you share your story with?