You know when I have a long post, that it often includes a story and something I am passionate about. And this post fits into that precise category. I believe wholeheartedly that the only truly original things anymore are people and their stories…
When I met Jeff he was graduating from college and playing professional golf. Jeff played golf 4 to 8 hours a day. He would often jump in with other men and women who had planned tee times. He would come home and I would ask, “Did you play with anyone nice today? What were their names? What do they do?”
Jeff would look at me with this blank stare and say, “I have no idea. I was just playing golf.” Jeff could tell me what kind of swing adjustments they needed or could tell me the clubs and balls they used, but couldn’t tell me any details to save his life. I was driven a little mad at times because I yearned for the details and the stories.
So I started going with Jeff at times to the golf course. I was giddy in love with him and I wanted to learn golf and what it was about golf that made him so happy and fulfilled.
On a lovely Thursday morning I was with Jeff when he joined three men in their 60s for a round of golf in Phoenix. Within 5 minutes, I found out their names and that they were there from Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia on a yearly golf trip. This was an annual event that had been taking place for over 30+ years. It made me so happy to hear about where they had traveled and how these men had committed to stay a part of each other’s lives for over 3 decades despite geographical changes, finances, and growing families.
I jumped in the cart with Ed. Between each hole, I would get 3 to 5 minute snippets of his life. I adored him by hole 5. I found out that he had 3 children, 6 grandchildren, was a self employed business owner, a rebel as a teenager who was “saved” by his high school sweetheart. By hole 12, we were both in tears as he shared that he had lost his wife 7 months earlier. You could hear his love and devotion for her through his soft words. He spoke of how he was sad that his grandchildren wouldn’t really remember her since they were so young.
When Ed got out of the cart with a swollen face, Jeff came over to me and whispered, “What did you just say to the guy?” I whispered, “His name is Ed and he lost his wife 7 months ago to cancer. He has 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and makes sprinkler parts for a living.” Jeff looked at me and his eyes were enlarged. “Really Jenny? You already know all of that?” I responded, “Yes, Jeff. I wanted to get to know Ed. I wanted to hear his story.” I wasn’t sure if Jeff was questioning his decision to date me, because he looked at me as if I was from another planet.
When the round of golf was done, Ed hugged me on the green of the 18th hole and Jeff and I started walking to the club house. As I waited for Jeff to talk to the golf pro in the shop, one of Ed’s friends came over to me and thanked me. I looked at him a bit perplexed and asked why he was thanking me. He stated, “Ed hasn’t cried since his wife died. Not even at her funeral. His children and all of his friends have been worried sick that he wasn’t handling this well. We moved this golf trip up because we have been so concerned. Thank you for asking him about Beverly.”
I simply said, “You’re welcome. I really enjoyed hearing Ed’s story. Beverly sounds like she was such a beautiful woman. I hope to one day be as blessed.” Ed’s friend hugged me and the golf day was over. Again, Jeff looked over at this point and still looked like he was perplexed and scratching his head.
I am still the same way to this day. I ask my patients at work to tell me about themselves. I ask people about their lives at doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, the water park, and of course on air plane flights. I also practice a writing exercise in which I observe someone and I write their story in 2 to 5 minutes of what I think they have lived. And when I am brave enough, I ask them to share their story with me. I get so excited when there are things that I wrote that I correctly deduced by observation. I become even more excited when I encounter resilient people who choose to live life with intention, honesty, and gratitude despite their circumstances.
In blog land, I have noticed a growing trend of people shouting that they own an idea over the past 6 months. Pinterest and other social media forums have contributed heavily to these ongoing “ownership issues”. From craft techniques to art to dance to quotes, etc. I am not a fan of the bickering. It often hampers creativity as I become paralyzed that I am possibly doing something that has been done before and fosters shame which I am not a fan of in the least.
I am rereading The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp and I LOVE this excerpt about the fear of doing something that has been done before:
“Honey, it’s all been done before. Nothing’s really original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself.”
Amen. In my opinion, what we add to our craft is our personal touch and our personal story. Our story and perspective is the only thing that makes our craft truly unique.
Now don’t confuse this with copying full blog posts, taking credit for another artist’s work by merely adding your name, or by taking credit for creating a recipe that you didn’t create. Give credit where it is due.
But overall, we all need to be honest with ourselves and know that we are often just putting a creative, personal twist to an idea already “invented”.
As I am baking more and more cupcakes, I have altered recipes and created new ones. But overall, it is still just a twist on the combination of sugar, flour, and other common ingredients. But what makes my cupcakes special is the story of why I started my 52 cupcake journey in the first place. It’s the love and hospitality that fills those cupcake pans, the remembrance of my friend Bud, and the reminder to myself and my friends to live life with intention. I’m more of a storyteller than a baker. I have used project life, cupcakes, life list items, and other mediums to share my story. I love to take pictures but am not a photographer. I love to record my stories in project life but I am not a scrapbook artist or designer. And I most certainly am not a master of other things that I have been merely introduced to because of my life list. I would characterize myself as a storyteller who is striving to live life with intention and a grateful heart despite my circumstances.
So don’t let the fear of not having something original stop you from sharing your story. Because no one, and I mean NO ONE has the same story as you.
So today embrace your craft. Paint. Write. Be a homemaker. Scrapbook. Photograph. Blog. Exercise. Dance. Work. Create.
But more than anything, embrace your story and learn from asking others about theirs.
Blessings sweet friends – JennyTweet