Sometimes I think the most valuable thing I receive from strangers are stories. Even in this immense and ever-expanding world of identity theft, hacked phones, and online aliases, people just can’t resist sharing little pieces of themselves.
I fancy myself a weaver of tales, but the reality is people begin telling stories practically from the day they can speak: stories about their lives, about their loved ones, stories about people they despise and admire. They can be exaggerated stories, truthful stories, and, yes, boring stories. There are countless tales coming from countless people from across time and space, circling the globe endlessly, so not a day goes by that you don’t see one staring you in the face.
However, the stories I like best are the little stories, the stories that don’t detail the life changing events. Everyone has that story about the first love, the death of a loved one, or that one amazing vacation, but these aren’t the stories you tell people, and, more importantly, these aren’t the stories that carry you through the day.
Case in point, late last week I was standing at the cash register of the grocery store, chatting with the cashier as she scanned the items in my cart. Most notably among these were a large number of frozen blueberries (a staple in my home for morning smoothies). I can’t remember what brought it about, but we started talking about them, and she mentioned her distaste for blueberries.
My internal thought: “Who doesn’t like blueberries??”
My actual response: “Huh. I don’t hear that very often.”
She then proceeded to tell me that she didn’t liked them because of something she did when she was little. After her first time trying them, she said she ate three cartons worth and then puked. Ever since she’s never had an appetite for them, because every time she saw blueberries she imagined that puddle of blueberry vomit. She did, however, mention that it was still the prettiest puke she had ever seen.
I had to laugh. She laughed with me. It was funny, especially the way she told it, and even close to a week later I still can’t get that final, colorful image out of my head. In that one simple moment, two strangers shared something, and we both walked away richer for the experience.
The story wasn’t deeply meaningful. It wasn’t about something that changed her life in some dramatic way, but in a strange way it touched me. It made me think, it stirred my imagination, yet somehow it didn’t make blueberries any less delicious.
Those kind of stories detail the little moments of life, the ones that avoid the cliche and needless exaggeration. They’re freely given and they’re intrinsically unique to every person you encounter. Most importantly though, they are the stories that make up the lifeblood of our days. They give us something to share without concern, bond without commitment, and laugh without reservation.
We tell these stories everyday. We tell them online, at the office, and to family and friends. They’re unlikely to win any awards, garner any acclaim, and yet they are invaluable. I don’t believe human existance, as we know it today, would be the same without them. They make life more vibrant, even if it’s hard to see how at times.
So on that note I say, “All hail the world’s blueberry moments! May they forever proliferate and thrive.”