Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Power of Stories

The words in yesterday's poignant Remembrance Day service at Westminster Abbey were ripe with meaning and message. They held far less impact though than the diary entries of Cornish tin miner featured on Radio 4 that morning. He was one of a tunnelling team deployed to undermine German trenches during the Great War.
His story had the power to reach inside and speak to individuals - to me - far greater than the Archbishop of Canterbury's exhortations to peace.

On Tuesday I was at a conference where a workshop leader spoke about Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Manchester. He spoke of how people's views on them change when they here the plight that many people arriving in the UK face. 'You just have to hear their stories...',
the workshop leader said. And indeed many of their stories deserve our compassion not derision.

For some years I have kept a notebook, largely to remember things I might write about in the future, but at times it has become something of a personal journal. This time last year we nursed someone very close in the last week of their life, and yesterday I read my notes of that week.

I was both really pleased and deeply moved by the story I had recorded there. Remembering day by day what we had gone through together - the humour and pain - was easier for having the simple practical details laid out before me.

Much of my personal recollections deserve to be shared - not yet though. My point is that the story, in its telling - no matter how great the audience - is both a therapy and a possible source of future comfort for anyone else faced with a similar challenge.

I have recently been helping my friends develop a new website called Experience My Culture (, my primary reason for thinking it is such a good idea is that we have such a lot to gain by sharing our stories.

If you consider your own life's events to be not worthy of remembering or recording, think again.

Our stories have the power to change lives and futures.
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Posted via email from stevencroft's posterous


70steen said...

It is funny I kept a diary religiously in my teens .. hence 70steen.. but as I have grown up I have stopped dead. My blog over the last few years has picked up my life as it is now in a few posts but not to the full extent as a diary would. As an avid family researcher I should be ashamed of myself as I wish my ancestors had left a legacy of who they were, what they were about etc... just leaving a note to self ... start a notebook about my being ... nice post Crofty ;-)

Crofty said...

It is odd isn't it? One of the things I found looking back at my notes is the way that the detail helps you remember the emotion of the time too.

Do you find your teenage angst coming back in waves? ;-)

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Have you read the beautifully crafted "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks? At its heart WWI tunnellers feature significantly. It is a great book.

Crofty said...

Birdsong was the first Sebastian Faulks book I read and I quickly read the rest. You are right it is very moving and fantastically evokes the trenches and tunnelers.

70steen said...

Crofty I am so glad my teenage angst stayed in the 70s to be honest lol. Come to think of it though I have written a few snippets about my life (I had quite forgotten) but that was when I was having some difficult times.. (divorce, no money etc etc)..

YP I love Seb Faulkes, my fav author, read Birdsong back in 1993 and have read all his work ... just waiting for the latest to be available on paperback ... makes easier carrying on the train ..

Crofty said...

What did you both think about the James Bond thing?