Life: Our Story Cupboard

Have you ever stopped to realise how mundane questions can transform into a magical deep story.  Every day, knowingly or unbeknown to us; we share stories or we collect stories.  This is how we live as humans and how we fit into this world.

Your story has deep magic because it creates a thread which ties those whom you interact with … together.  Despite all the technology and distractions, this is probably one of the oldest traditions which still connect us on a personal level.  There are people in your inner circle (part of your tribe) who you share many stories with “around the campfire”.  Your work colleagues, friends and acquaintances’ are on the outer circle.

Then there are those you meet by the way yet somehow all are linked by this ancient tradition of storytelling.  Besides you being a storyteller, you inadvertently become a story collector.  If you heard something of interest or you learnt something you didn’t know before, you relate the story you collected.

silhouette of happy running woman with umbrella
silhouette of happy running woman with umbrella

You go through your day, often without realizing it, at the pause area at your workplace, the queue at the supermarket, or in a doctor’s waiting room. You overhear stories from those whom you know and strangers. People chat about their latest happenings; their careers, their families, their colleagues. Ordinary stories, transforming into something extraordinary. It’s carried for miles and for years it will be remembered. They don’t have to be stories of crazy adventure and fantastic exploits of the weekend or a trip. They are just stories which fit into the realm of a normal day. Stories which make you tuck away your mobile away, just so that you can smile with them as they share it. It’s astonishing what we can learn from strangers, even what we learn about those we know. Stories are bridges which link our lives together and fill that gap.

There is a richness, hidden jewels of wisdom in stories, this is how we link up as humans. Stories help us express our shared humanity. There is a common thread through our experiences along the way we collect gems. Experiences such as being afraid, regrets, achieving a milestone, dreams and hopes, love, heartbreak, and desires, the future. It’s easy, in our world of conversation on social media platforms, via text messages, to project a story differently to get lost in all the white noise … yet face to face we find authenticity from shared stories.

I don’t know about you, but I hate surface answers to a deep question especially via a text messages.

It’s like a pet peeve for me.  It’s almost like my question demands an answer filled with substance, the “juice” and joy lies in the heart and soul of your response. When I get a “yup” or a 3 word response, I take it as a surface response. However if you were face to face, there is so much more I can read into it. I can feel the energy and read your body language. It expands my connection with you. The intimacy and connection one shares with the listener is something personal. You are sharing a part of you with them and when you walk away, you are leaving a part of you with them forever.

It’s a personal bond.  So the next time someone asks you a question, however mundane it may seem to you, they are trying to connect with you.

If it play out as follows “how was your weekend” …. “My weekend was fine thank you!” and you part ways; that person or you somehow do not want to exchange a thread or a connection which we are all entitled too. Most people can read this as idle “coffee machine chit chat” zero substance and a whole lot of nothingness. If you do not want to dive into a realm with a person, that’s a persons’ right.

If you chose to say “I had a fantastic weekend… and and and and!” The person is allowing you into their space of sharing and connection.

Someone who chooses to share their story with you, can be seen as a privilege, they are inviting you to have a deeper understanding of them. What they share with you will shape both your lives and help you imagine something you may not have had a chance to live into too.

I recall a friend once saying to me: “I have a story cupboard, either you get in and listen or don’t open the door to my cupboard!”

Stories, ours and those which are shared with us, take us on a journey, they are precious and personal.

So, when listening to a story, listen with heart and open mind. Sometimes just listening to a story heals, even the places we didn’t realise were broken within ourselves or the storyteller.

Hopefully next time the power of your story or the story shared resonates and deep magic into your life.


About Saffiya Ismail

Born in Pietermaritzburg, she now resides in Johannesburg and says her most important role in life is being a mother. Saffiya is a freelance writer. A contributing author in “Riding the Samoosa Express” (Anthology launched 21st March 2015). With a second chapter submitted for the next book, Saffiya says her passion is writing.

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