How, and why to tell stories about your life
I have mixed feelings about listening to people talk about themselves. Like everyone, I enjoy talking about myself, and I realize that everything about me is interesting - to me. But it's not necessarily interesting to other people, so I ponder that before I speak.
When someone lolls back in their chair, takes a deep breath, and says, "that reminds me of a story..." I have two reactions, one being that hopefully they'll talk about something I can relate to, such as what Los Angeles was like before the freeways were built, and the other being that I hope that they're going to buy me another beer, so I can just wait it out and stare into space until they're through talking.
So please do tell me about what it was like back in your day. I want to walk the places you walked, see the people you saw, through your eyes. Please don't share intimate details (which seems to be almost irresistible to some people when telling a story) but please do tell me how you met your wife, or husband. Tell me about the first car you ever owned, that sort of thing. If you have a prepared speech that you recite to everyone you meet, possibly over and over again, please stop that, and let me ask questions. For the "prepared speech" I'm expected to sit silently, never interrupting, never asking questions. Those things are just awful to listen to, and it's the reason why so many young people hate listening to old people.
In this blog I plan on sharing more about me, about my life in Phoenix and Los Angeles going back to 1977. I still consider myself young, just slightly past middle-age, and certainly not "old", but I feel that I'm at a point in my life where I can share stuff that will interest people, not just myself. My goal is to make what I say relevant to people who might be listening, the places I've been, the cars I've owned. I can't talk about "How I met your mother" because I don't have any kids, and while I've had a wonderful life filled with beautiful women, I'm not going to talk about that kind of stuff, so please let it go.
I'd like to encourage you to do the same. Not necessarily in a blog, but wherever you feel that it's appropriate. If you've gotten into the habit of telling long, boring, pointless stories which make people want to run from you, it's not too late to change your ways. I recommend that you set aside the "prepared speeches" and listen to questions, and answer them.
Thank you for history adventuring with me!
Image at the top of this post: In my first apartment in Phoenix in 1978. It was a furnished studio apartment, with one single bed, essentially one room with half a wall dividing it from the kitchen. On the table next to me is a digital clock, which had numbers that flipped down, and next to it is my copy of "Wyeth at Kuerners".
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Posted by Brad Hall