Have you ever noticed that life is about sharing little connections? When conversing with people, there are moments of elated joy when someone realizes they like the same band, they went to the same restaurant last week, or they both know so-and-so of such-and-such.
When watching a movie, you see elements of yourself in the characters on the screen, and surely you have resonated with their circumstances. When listening to a song, you have probably thought to yourself, “I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I understand.” To think that someone else felt those same feelings makes the world seem a little cheerier. It gives you the impression you are not alone.
Life is all about little connections; connections that represent commonalities, unity, resonance. If you can be a conveyer of connections, well then, you are bringing grace to the lives of others. That’s what storytelling is all about–little connections.
When looking for story ideas or interesting stories to share about residents at the senior living communities I work with, I look for stories that other people can connect with. Why would someone want to read this? Will this resonate with others? Will this stir feelings in my readers? Does this touch the heart? Can I inspire with this story? What message does this story send to others? Can I enlighten people’s hearts and minds with this?
In the past year, I have shared some amazing stories that have made a spider web of connections among the people whom the stories have reached. Here are a few highlights:
Surviving Breast Cancer Twice – “I did not have much time to react when I found out I had cancer,” said Bobby Jo Walker, a resident of Baptist Retirement Community. “I was rushed in to immediate surgery. I looked like I had railroad tracks running down my side after they stitched me back up. I was very concerned about my teenage son, the youngest of four children, and who would care for him if I did not make it. I also had things in life that I wanted to complete, things I had yet to do.”
Apollo 11 Mission – “It was fantastic; you really cannot describe the feeling. We just went wild when the Lunar Module 5 (LM 5) landed,” expressed Dugan, a former employee of Grumman Aerospace and a resident of Buckner Westminster Place. “The LM 5, also known as the Eagle, is extremely complicated and was built in two parts, the descent stage and the ascent stage. The descent stage brought them from the mother ship down to the moon, and the ascent stage brought them from the moon back up to the mother ship.”
A Life Full of Love – “I had admired DaNaune (his wife) at school for some time,” said Bill Bloodworth, a resident at Baptist Retirement Community. “I felt like it was such good fortune to finally meet her, even if she was dating my best friend. It was love at first sight. She has always been such a positive influence in my life. DaNaune is the reason I finished school. After 61 years of marriage, we continue to look for unique ways to spend time together. From mission trips to road trips in the RV trailer to teaching an ESL class together, we are keeping it fresh.”
These are just snippets of stories—stories that engage readers, which create or resonate with their emotions. Perhaps they recovered from a serious health condition, or conquered something never done before, or fell in love.
You cannot tell stories like these in a dry manner. You have to let go—use detail, description and be vulnerable in your writing. If you can do this, the beauty of your emotion—your connection to the story—will shine through as you tell it. Hopefully others will be graced by the story you have written. They will understand and they will feel the connection you’ve shared with them.