National Day of Listening

This may not work.

But I am going to try to talk to my damn mother for the Story Corps project, the National Day of Listening, on Friday. Maybe you can do it, too. It's a great legacy to leave, to include in the history of our real country, and a fantastic opportunity to connect with a loved one in a different way. The website offers tips as well as starting questions for your "interview."

There are a million ways and reasons I love what storytelling has become: a significant method that we use to frame our lives and our history. I never thought I'd see the day that ordinary people were recognized for their experiences and perspectives. I always thought that was the job of the Great American Novel, not reality TV, not computer networks, but things have changed. Thank God.

I love that I spent an hour on Monday selling a corporate client on how we'd help put faces to their "story," which they already value as a central part of their brand. I love that I have a chance to sell without lying, and use my skills to accomplish something rewarding while getting paid.

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The day after Thanksgiving, if I follow through on my National Day of Listening pledge, I'm supposed to listen to my mother for a full hour. We have a difficult relationship, but she is here for the holiday anyway.

Why don't I turn away when opportunity knocks like this? Maybe I'm strong enough to plunge right in to a challenging learning experience, perhaps flowers will pour from her mouth in a surprise fit of something-or-other. Could be that this process is just part of some rebellion I'm having against being healed, maybe this is my way to insist on banging my head against a familiar wall one more time.

I know part of my mother's annoying behavior is caused by illness, but after 43 years I still have trouble being around it and making room for my real live self.

Around her I feel like the child I was, the one who was constantly asked to be different; at other times I'm in the shoes of her parent, whose job it was to take care. The one who failed so miserably. If I saw my mother as a child who needed only love and empathy, I'd probably accept her and feel more sad than angry.

The sadness is like a well. I don't want to shine a light down there.

But an hour? With my ears? I'll try. Wish me luck.

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Widow in the Middle said...

Go for it! You seem to be in a good place for this. Just go into it without any preconceived ideas about the outcome and let it flow. It may help to try and have as neutral a frame of mind as is possible too. Good luck and let us know how it comes out.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...


To my surprise she agreed to do it, but we conveniently ran out of time because her visit was shorter than I expected.

I'm not optimistic but I'm trying to be open to the possibilities. We'll arrange a second visit soon and hopefully take another whack at it, then!

Thanks for your support!




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