The story is told in A Thousand and One Nights Entertainment of how Scheherazade saved not only her own life but the life a community of women by telling stories to a murderous king.
Might we pull ourselves back from the mortal peril we have put each other and the planet in by sharing our stories with each other? By being known to each other?
With this question in mind, taken together with Patti Digh’s maxim that the shortest distance between two people is a story, I’ve embarked on a collaborative project that I call A Thousand and One Brief Encounters.
I invite you to share the story of a brief encounter with someone that you do or did not know well, or did not know at all. An encounter that moved you, caught and kept your attention, and that and speaks in some way to what matters to you. Some of these encounters may be very very fleeting. I once watched a 6 year old boy run across a rocky beach, climb a boulder, and shout out with unbridled joy. It was a visceral reminder of the innocence, energy, and spontaneity of childhood. The memory of that quick encounter has stayed with me, almost like a talisman ever since.
Let us entertain, amaze, inspire, and shorten the distance between us with tales of these encounters.
I’ll drop a first story in the pond and let it ripple out. Will you share the next? I’ll tend the story fire, and promise to send and compilation of the stories to all contributors as well as share as many as I can here at storytellers campfire blog and with other outlets that welcome such an effort.
Can we weave together 1001 tales of meaningful human encounters? How long might that take? Perhaps less time than we imagine if we share a tale ourselves and invite others in our network as we feel appropriate.
Here’s one of many brief encounters that I’ve had and that has kept a smile on my face every time I recall it.
One evening, my brother Dave and I caravanned to restaurant for mini family reunion. As is my custom, I parked and was out of my car very quickly. As is his custom, my brother took his time and lingered in his car, making a slow transition. Ten minutes later at the dinner table, the conversation was flowing, we were ready to order and Dave had still not appeared. Feeling annoyed I went outside, marched straight up to the open window of his car, and in a somewhat irritated voice demanded,
“ Hey brother, what’s taking you so long?”
The response was immediate.
“Hey Brother. Just chilling. Who ARE you?”
Sitting behind the wheel was a very large and very dark skinned man with a strong Caribbean accent. His car was the same make, model and color of my brother’s vehicle which was parked a few spaces away but obscured in the shadows by this car.
Considering that it was dark, and a stranger had approached him so quickly and so closely, and in the tone I had spoken, my new brother was surprisingly calm and friendly. As you might imagine, this encounter could easily have played out very differently.
I sputtered a quick explanation and an apology, which was waved away as if it was not even necessary. Very quickly both of us were laughing at the situation.
“Since we are brothers now,” I said, “Let me tell you a family story.”
I quickly related to him the story of how I’d gone shopping at an African market in Chicago with a Nigerian doctor. We were sharing a sublet apartment for a month while was telling stories in the city libraries and she was working on a cancer research project.
As the butcher took Prisca’s order for various cuts of goat meat, he did a quick double take at this unlikely couple, pointed at me asked her “Are you his wife?”
Prisca pulled her shoulders back, raised her chin almost defiantly and answered in a regal tone,.No he is NOT my husband. He is my FATHER!
Later, laughing together at the butchers drop jawed reaction, Prisca told me. “I was telling that man the truth Bob. In my tribe we honor our elders, and call a respected older man father. You ARE my father and I am your African daughter.”
My unexpected new brother returned in kind with a tale, of the “whitest of white of his co-workers” as he described her ,who because of mutual appreciation and affinity had become his daughter.
With stories exchanged and more laughs we parted.
“Goodbye my brother!”
“Goodbye my brother.”
I’ve forgotten what I had to eat that night, but I will never forget this brief and one time encounter with my new extended family member.
Now again… The invitation. Let’s weave together a fabric of human connection, one story at a time. Pass the Stories Please! Leave a story here in the comments section or email me your contribution at email@example.com
Thank you. ” I am who I am because of who we all are together.”