I am reminded of this several times a day. Over the past year, I researched and wrote the story of one person. I realized early in my journey that every person I met along the way had their very own story, which could have easily filled its own book(s), had someone taken the time to learn the story and write about it. When the time and the place are right, and the mood lends itself to listening and sharing, a connection begs to be established—some days it seems easier than others.
Our curiosity leads the way; we’re not prying, we’re genuinely interested…in the other person. We ask questions, welcome silence and reflection, and listen attentively. A strange feeling takes hold of us when we allow ourselves to be drawn into someone else’s story. Today for example, while busking at the Farmers Market, I learned five new stories. Barbara Lange, the first person we talked with, was selling her book Through the Window of a Train (http://www.borealispress.com/throughthewindowofatrain.html), a beautiful collection of stories and photographs about trains and the Canadian railroads. What a story she told of playing the role of editor to thirty contributors (railway workers, their families, and train travellers), and eventually getting a publisher to take her book on, two years after sending her inquiry letters.
Ken, the beekeeper—only a hobby he says—who was selling honey, also enjoys playing guitar. While he plucked the strings of my Seagull six-string, I learned that he studied entomology (thus the interest in bees) and took up photography while researching the history and biology of Manitoba pickerel. His eyes lit up when I told him that he should consider a guitar performance of his own, at Sam’s Place. Good luck, Ken!
I wondered what stories Dan, the head of a Hutterite family from Harmony, would tell. Or Sarah, his great-niece. He enjoyed the music and made requests for the next time; she sang along from a distance, until we invited her to join us for a song. The music of Don Swidinsky (http://www.donswidinsky.com) and Lois Taylor created the perfect setting to learn a few more stories. As Don sang of the Suzanne-E.—his very own composition—about a shipwreck on Lake Winnipeg (http://www.redriverancestry.ca/SUZANNE-E.php), a lady standing beside me explained that Don was singing about her story, and places of her childhood. She grew up around Riverton and Grindstone Point; her uncle even captained the Suzanne-E.
The richness of the individual stories builds the richness of our communities. Had the skies not opened up with torrential rains, I know I would have learned more stories… What’s your story?