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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