The day after Thanksgiving now has the “tradition “ of retail pandemonium known as Black Friday, which gets hyped more and more very year. But a much-needed departure from sometimes mindless spending has no price tag, but cannot be bought, as it is the act of really listening to one another, sharing our lives and experiences.
The National Day of Listening is observed on Thanksgiving Friday, where people are encouraged to share and record their stories with others, whether family, friends, or anybody they’d like to know more about. Started by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay in 2006, it’s a call to action for greater connection, plus provides an option for a heightened appreciation of one another in preserving our lifestories.
“By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation, reminding us how precious each day can be, and how great it is to be alive.”
—Dave Isay, StoryCorps founder & president.
Technology may move us a lot faster, but it can never take the place of hearing each other’s hearts. That’s what this experience is all about. You might call it “real stories by real people.” Clearly, no reality show can match the wonder, resilience, and broad scope of our lifestories.
How many times have you heard, “I wish I had recorded Grandpa’s stories,” “How did you feel about…” when asking about a turning point in one’s life, or “How did the elder deacon get his Purple Heart?” Everybody has stories to tell, to share, that need to be preserved as a testament to our uniqueness, and diversity. As people share their stories, it only underscores that lives matter, in some some way, a difference has been made.
The process is quite simple. Find a storyteller-whether a family member, a friend, or just someone who interests you. Obtain a device for recording—a tape recorder, a cell phone, or a computer, and a microphone plus headphones for you, the interviewer. . Be sure to have a set of questions or story starters ready to prompt any memories. These are the “Tell me more…” open-ended statements that encourage those interviewed to fell comfortable and just talk.
StoryCorps was founded in 2003 as an oral history initiative, a way to preserve those “little” tales that make up the magnificent story that is America. Through a permanent booth in New York City, and various mobile recording units, the lives of the seemingly uncelebrated are definitely celebrated in a big way. The result is a 40-minute CD that captures the interview. Many are posted every Fridays at the NPR website.
This call to act is “Don’t wait—just DO IT, and talk to somebody you care about NOW. Along with family scrapbooks, and photographs, this will always be a wonderful family heirloom to hear.
Although this national day will become a yesterday, that’s no reason not to still take out time to interview someone, to find a way of preserving those memories, as these are our authentic connectors as the family of humanity. Create your own Day of Listening, at any time. For instructions on how to do this, go directly to the website. You’ll be glad you did.