I find myself fascinated by Hospitals and Schools and Airports.
“That’s really odd,” I can hear you thinking that already. Don’t deny it. 🙂
What do they have in common?
No, it’s not the size of the buildings.
No, it’s not where they are located.
It doesn’t have anything to do with how much money they make.
Or with how many cool toys there are at each one.
Or whether it’s run by the government or run by a private organization.
That’s not what fascinates me.
“Well then, tell us!”
It’s the stories.
Most of them you don’t know.
And they are almost always not nearly as pretty of a story as it looks. And they are always significantly deeper and more varied and complicated than they look.
The “very successful business man” getting on an airplane while carrying his briefcase and talking on his phone (usually too loudly). You can’t see underneath to understand his true story. Maybe he isn’t successful but is trying to look the part. Maybe he’s off to visit another location of his business and eliminate 60 jobs at their plant in California. Maybe he’s…. or maybe he’s going…….
The young mom traveling with two little ones – is she going to visit Grandma? Or Dad? And what has led to this trip?
The family with “similar” looking winter gear on, obviously heading to somewhere with bigger hills than we have to do some winter activities together.
And the doctor walking down the hall at the hospital, she has 7 significantly younger staff (probably residents) following just barely behind her; she’s got a story. A story of good, of sleepless nights wondering if she did “it” right, of successes, of failures. A story of explaining to her kids that she couldn’t do …… Because she had to tend to the needs of someone who……..
The mom being pushed down the hall in a wheelchair holding a new born baby. So much happiness, so much wonder and a good bit of nervousness too. Dad follows behind carrying all of the flowers and balloons while trying to get used to the new name, “Dad.”
The older man with the stooped shoulders trying to navigate how to get to his wife’s hospital room. Worry worn very obviously heavy on his heart.
The elementary school students all full of energy and chaos and questions. What do they take home with them? What stories outside of school impact the way they “do” school?
The middle school students – that awkward phase where you are trying to figure out who you are and what your place in this world is, let alone what place in your school is “your fit.”
You can’t forget the high school students. A conundrum of conflict between the kid that I was and the adult that I think I’m going to be. A time where parents need to work themselves out of a job – and let them grow and think and do for themselves. And that involves pain and struggle and skinned knees and bruised egos and it involves big steps and small steps and closing doors and knocking on new ones.
High School – I’ve heard it said that the only people who like high school are the teachers and staff. I’m not sure that’s true but many of the former high school students I know (present company included) would agree with it.
And then there’s the teachers – Did you know that a math teacher doesn’t really teach math? And a Spanish teacher doesn’t teach Spanish?
That’s right, what they really teach is life. Sure, it’s life through the window of Math, or life through the lens of a foreign language or life through the thoughts and ramblings of Atticus Finch or Shakespeare or Dante. But it’s life they are teaching and the stories they get to see a glimpse of as they do that, it’s an amazing privilege and an awesome experience to see the “lightbulb” go on.
Stories – a multitude of stories. Some happy, some sad. Some strong, some weak. Some simple, some complex. Some wet with tears, some overflowing with laughter.
I look around and I see a whole bunch of people. But even more, I see stories. Everyone has a story. Many of us have many different chapters to our stories.
Most of us aren’t willing to share our stories, and so we keep them stuffed down inside. Sometimes that’s good, other times, if our stories aren’t told, that leads to deeper scars and harder stories.
And each of our stories has something to offer, something to teach, something to encourage others with. But they won’t, if we don’t share them.
That’s why the Facebook page for Humans of New York has over 17 million followers the last time I checked.
17 million – that’s like the entire population of New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.
So share your story. Even if it’s only with one person.
Even if it’s only one chapter of your story. You just might be the boost that that one person needs.