Reflections Thoughts

A Time and Space to Listen to Stories

My story. Your story. Our stories. It feels simple to write these words, but it takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and space not only to tell stories but to listen to them.

If we are chronically busy, as most of us are these days, we have to find ways to optimize our time. The first place we cut is telling our personal stories. Next, we trim a little from how we listen to the stories of others. Maybe we fill in the gaps with what we think or fit a lifetime’s worth of intrigue into a 15-minute time block on our calendar.

But if we are out of time, we jump right into the “us” story. The story of the collective. The heroes and villains. The saints and martyrs. The narrative that binds people together.

It is in this awareness that I stop and slow down. Valarie Kaur brings perspective to the time and space necessary to give and receive stories. In her book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, Kaur writes about the power of listening. As she traveled the country to present her film about the treatment of Sikhs in post-9/11 America, she not only shared powerful stories but became a witness to the stories of others. She couldn’t help but listen.

Inspired by Valarie Kaur’s words, I realize that when I tell my story, it creates an opportunity for you to tell your story. When you listen to me, I have a chance to then listen to you. But reciprocity takes time. It requires an intentional and safe space for this conversation to occur. And it doesn’t happen without telling our personal stories and caring to listen when other people share their stories, no matter how long it takes.