Life is one big love story with hundreds of little love stories within it.Ram Charan
I wasn’t intending on telling a story as I rode with Sarah into the city on a Monday night. I was just going to lend moral support to our friend, Kim, a storyteller. Earlier in the day, Kim asked me, “Are you going to tell a story?” and I said “Absolutely not!” without hesitating. Later, Sarah told me, “I have a story. Do you want to do one, too?”
This time I hesitated and said, “Maybe.”
What are you supposed to do when you’re out on a Monday night in the spring in your favorite city with two fearless women who don’t seem to be concerned about baring their souls to a roomful of strangers?
I folded under the peer pressure and put my name on the sign-up sheet.
The storytelling event, an open mic, is a popular long-running series in Chicago. The stories are unrehearsed. Anyone can walk in, sign up, and be called up to the front where there’s just a microphone. There are rules: The story can be no longer than 7 minutes, and the audience is expected to offer up unbridled enthusiasm. I mean, each storyteller approached and retreated from the microphone among thunderous applause from a supportive audience. It was a safe space. Phones were off, eyes were up, ears were open. We were all going to be vulnerable. Together.
I felt the earth shift during that evening of storytelling. I heard stories of love, loss, and redemption. Of breaking rules. Of making up new rules. Feeling alone. Overcoming.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Since that night, I’m starting to consider my quiet life as a series of my own stories. I hadn’t really thought of it quite that way before. But when your life is a story unfolding, it makes you want to try new things, experience things out of your comfort zone. Because who knows what might happen? Everything could go right, and that will become a sweet story.
Or everything could go wrong. That would make a compelling story. All of it is good.