Ideas and stories are insubstantial, numerous, and we only hear a few. No wonder my passions are people and ideas. Occasionally I’ll launch into monologue when I find a receptive audience. Maybe that’s why I enjoy teaching and speaking, and good friends. For me though, listening is like hiking to the top of a mountain ridge. I wonder if the next ridge, the next story, will give me yet another new view of the world to piece in with the others I’ve already collected. Unfortunately, there are more stories, ideas, answers, insights than can possibly be delivered, heard, or absorbed. Treasures wait to be found.
Hiking to views in Washington’s Cascades is a not a sure thing. Most days are cloudy, and the views are obscured. A sunny day at the trailhead can turn at a ridge clouded by the morning’s evaporating snowpack. Sweet lakes can spend afternoons under very local mini-thunderheads. Each of the hundreds of lakes is unique, but they begin to look alike in a fog or from inside a rain-drenched tent. So, why go hiking? Because of the nice days of course.
I was hesitant to write my first book or two. Others had undertaken similar adventures with greater drama, accomplishment, and incentives. Yes, I rode my bicycle across the United States, but so did hundreds every year. I heard their stories as I rode across their routes. The locals passed along the tales; especially, if the tales involved greater challenges. I rode from north of Seattle (Roche Harbor) to south of Miami (Key West). The stories I heard about though were of the family of five. Dad on his bike with the five year old on a pedal powered psuedo-tandem. Mom cycling along pulling the three-year old in a trailier. And the eight year old proudly independent. The other story was about Lars Clausen, the man who unicycled through every state. Their accomplishments didn’t diminish mine. Their stories added different perspectives.
One story was told to the world. Lars wrote One Wheel. Many States. A book is a way to launch words beyond the community of friends and acquaintances. I don’t think the family wrote theirs, but they undoubtedly could teach others about shared joys and coping methods.
I wrote three books about year-round travel in the Cascades, not because I was an expert mountain man, but because I was surprised that none of them had written that story. The Seattle area has an active community of hikers, skiers, alpinists, climbers, and uber-adventurers. The area is also populated by best-selling authors and storytellers. Yet, none of them had taken on the duel challenge of visiting a bit of wilderness throughout the year and writing about their insights. I thought someone should, so I did, even though I wasn’t the most accomplished at either skill.
People who are awake and alive have stories to tell. Writers and other artists get to tell stories. One of my frustrations is to see and hear stories, or maybe only their hints, and to know that its message and meaning is trapped by logistics, excessive humility, or fear of disapproval.
Every time I talk about Modern Self-Publishing, I hear each attendee’s story. They’ve taken an enormous step, for some, by showing up. Even amongst them, most hide their tales. One very powerful tool they have is each other. Telling each other their stories and talking about their process amplifies and speeds their efforts. Here’s a bit from one of them:
Kim Tinuviel is an avid travel photographer/blogger. Between trips, her Langley design studio Tinuviel Creative, creates stylish and professional book covers and layouts, websites, photography, business cards and many other services that help writers get their work published!
Not only does she have a story to tell, but she’s also a source of other talents, just like everyone in the room. Unfortunately, only a few pass around their contact info, or announce their progress. Some hold back for personal reasons. Some hold back for competitive reasons. I hid my first Twelve Month project until I was in the eleventh month. I know the feeling.
On a global and on a personal level we have a great need for being heard and for listening. Our environment and society needs solutions, and I suspect that somewhere in a few billion brains exist simple solutions. Ingenuity exists but needs an outlet. All of us have stories to tell, some that impact global issues, but more that merely need to be said and healthily heard. Compassion exists and is greatly enabled by sharing.
For our sake and for my sake, for deeply powerful insights, or merely for entertainment, tell your story. And if you think it’s a bit rough, talk to a friend. There are plenty of people around to help with the polishing.
Now, it’s time to pour a cup of something and go listen to a tale. About an hour ago, as I started typing this, a friend’s sleeve slid up to reveal a tattoo. Evidently, it involves a wizard, Hong Kong, and possible inebriation. You gotta admit that there’s more to the story than that. Hmm, maybe some stories are best kept private.