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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Journey; Our Story*

The ending of day, the beginning of night;
A moment in time;
A moment of life.
--R. F. Couey

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, October 11, 2009
as"Everyone Has a Story to Tell"

*Ada, OK Evening News, October 11, 2009

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

Recently, a legend of television journalism passed from this life. In 1968, Don Hewitt created the first “news magazine” for television, calling it “60 Minutes,” forever identified by the iconic image of a ticking pocket watch. 60 Minutes birthed the usual retinue of copycat programs, but none achieved the hard-hitting quality as the original, a power that remains undiminished today, in its 42nd remarkable season.

The stories were often complex and guaranteed to incite the righteous anger of the viewer. But however intricate the tale, Hewitt’s instruction to the producers and the reporters was deceptively simple:

“Tell me a story.”

The history of humanity is a vast collection of tapestries, upon which is recorded the journey we have all traveled, and shared. Some of these tapestries glitter with the light of notoriety and fame. Others hang muted and silent. But no matter how famous or obscure, each human has a story to tell. All these stories have in common triumph and tragedy, events that scale the heights of elation, and plumb the depths of sorrow.

We often think that the stories of our own lives are not worth the re-telling, convinced that our experience is mundane and boring. But scattered throughout that existence are moments of hard truth, when we are face-to-face with an unavoidable decision. It is those challenges that we face, and the choices we have made that give our stories value.

Wisdom is not learned; it is earned. We have all faced difficult decisions at one time or another, and when we couldn’t figure out the answer we sought out someone we trusted; someone of greater experience. But why wait until then? Around us every day are people who have already made our mistakes, faced our challenges; who already have the answers to questions we haven’t even thought of yet.

• Times are tough; we’re all agreed on that. But if we want solid advice on how to get through a bad economy, why not ask the people who survived the Great Depression? What tricks of conservation, saving, and just getting by did they learn? What choices did they have to make that we can mirror in our own lives?

• If we have a friend or a loved one who has lost someone in Iraq or Afghanistan, or if we’ve suffered that tragic loss ourselves, shouldn’t we talk to the widows of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam? Grief is a journey and we can learn much from their healing walk.

• And if you’re at that low point, when you’ve lost your ability to hope, please know that you are not alone. Among the faces in the crowds we see every day are those who have also lost hope, but managed to find it again, putting their lives back on track. Perhaps your salvation lies in the simple inspiration of a new idea.

We all suffer from our own blind spots. We get caught up in our own lives to the extent that nothing else seems to matter. And yet, we ignore the treasure of the differing perspective that stands a mere arm’s length away.

We need to ask each other about our stories. Each life contains drama, pathos, and joy. By hearing the tales of others, our lives become richer; solutions become clearer. The knowledge and hard-won wisdom gleaned from such stories can widen the perspective and ease the pain of our lives.

And in that sharing, perhaps we can create that most lasting and valuable commodity: A friendship.

Don Hewitt's simple instruction is a challenge, not just to journalists, but to all of us as well.

"Tell me a story."

Life is a collection of such tales, woven together into the tapestry that defines us. And it is in the collection of all those tapestries that will forever relate the journey all humanity shares…

The journey of life.
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