Last night my dear friend Danielle and I trekked out to Pasadena to the new KPCC building. We went to hear readings and musings on the book Mom, the latest StoryCorps book introduced by Dave Isay. The lovely Crawford Family Forum was the perfect venue to appreciate the stories told and recorded by StoryCorps. It was so wonderful to listen, with no obligations, or expectations; nothing required. It was a privilege to meet Rueben Martinez of Libreria Martinez Books & Art Gallery-a literacy advocate and MacArthur Fellow, who was selling the books for signing. In fact, Dave Isay is also a MacArthur Fellow-which put us, as, as Bill Davis president of Southern California Public Radio said: “In the company of two geniuses.”
It was an honor to shake the hands and in the case of Rueben, to get a big hug, by three men so intent on preserving oral histories and the stories of common people, who in reality are not always so common. What a fantastic project StoryCorps is. To give people the opportunity to listen to the story of a relative or close friend and have it recorded for posterity. The story-teller has the opportunity to be heard, to have someone they care about, truly listen to their story, without judgment, in the privacy of the recording booth. We all deserve to be heard and we all must take the time to listen to others, face to face. It is through listening that we learn, we appreciate and we grow.
Listening is a common thread in my life lately. Having gone through the Council training of the Ojai Foundation, and practicing listening with the children in my kindergarten, I find myself slowing down and feeling the calm of uninterrupted listening, of making eye contact, of not formulating an answer immediately, but letting the words sink in. The words reside in a spiral in my mind and I can close my eyes, patiently letting the words into my soul, the stories melding and becoming a part of me.
I believe my kindergarten children need the chance to do their own StoryCorps project. They are often not given credit for their ability to come up with insightful questions and their own curiosity leads them to question things we might otherwise miss. These children are our future, and we must give them the opportunity to have the kind of special contact a true, intimate interview can provide.