Posted on Jan 11, 2019 in Editorial.
In these digital days, we’re increasingly bombarded with selfies and tweets, text messages and voice messages, factoids, memes and news (both real and fake). Amid the constant swipes and clicks, taking the time to sit down and recount, listen to, savor and digest a real story is somewhat of a rarity – and a luxury.
As a ghostwriter for LifeBook, receiving a fresh 90-minute interview with an author gives me permission to mute my iPhone, unplug all my devices, don a pair of headphones and tune into the timeless pleasure of listening, as a person, rich in experiences, dips back into his or her past. As I listen, gradually, piece by piece, these recollected moments and memories take shape as a narrative. Some of these moments are fleeting and fragile. Others are momentous ones of joy or despair. But they’re all about life – an individual’s life, a family’s life and, in a larger sense, all our lives.
When I listen to such stories, I’m amazed by all the things I didn’t know. Dishes I’ve never eaten. Games I’ve never played. Important historical events that never made it onto my radar. When I later begin to assemble these tales into a more linear narrative, I often end up Googling many names, places and events. This isn’t just an attempt to check spellings; it’s an urge to satisfy my own – and what I imagine to be eventual readers’ – curiosity.
When I listen to such stories, I’m also amazed at how much I can identify with. From childhood mischief and mishaps to holidays gone right – or wrong. The thrill and fear of a new school, town, job or relationship. The pain of personal loss. The triumph of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. Listening to others’ stories invites us to reflect upon our own stories and those of our loved ones. It creates (often unexpected) parallels and connections. It enriches lives.
To listen to a life unfolding, and then to help shape the myriad facets of that life into a full narrative, packed with information, entertainment and emotion, is infinitely rewarding. Stories take us on a journey through time and place, and, even when the narrative is over, the stories themselves last. Stories cause us to think, dream, remember and wonder. Much more so than a tweet or a text or a selfie.
By Michael – LifeBook ghostwriter
When I tell people I write life stories, they often say, “Too bad my life isn’t more interesting.” My response to that? It depends on who is reading and their definition of “interesting”.