It has been an extraordinary night.
In a room containing an eclectic bunch of people, arranged in horseshoe fashion, I spent the evening with a group whose ages ranged from 30 something to almost 70, drawing each others’ names from a pot taking turns to come out to the front of the room and tell a story… a story whose premise was “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.
Have you ever noticed? We spend much of our lives making small talk, catching up on the minutiae of a day, restricting our conversation to the work we’re doing, what stage our kids are at, or what the latest fashions are – and I’m tempted to think that we are barely scratch the surface of people’s experience.
We are acquainted with a myriad of people but we barely know any of them.
So the Hearth, the event I went to tonight, opens the door to people’s lives… true stories of events, experiences and histories that make people who they are, and for an evening they bravely open the door to us… some of us friends, others strangers. And the powerful thing about it, is that hearing these stories, and telling mine in my turn, connects us in a way that few things I’ve experienced do.
I loved it … surrounded by accountants, creatives, gay, straight, spiritual, atheist, older, younger, single, partnered… all sorts of us 23 or so in number gathering over a sumptuous pot-luck dinner, lots of wine and all the while, none of us focused on our differences, all of us joined by our stories… travel stories… love stories… work stories… family stories. All of them different, some of disturbing, others hilarious… some delivered articulately others, less so, but all delivered without judgement and all of them fascinating.
There’s a time limit on the hearth… 5 minutes… maybe a squeak over, if you’re lucky… but with 18 of us telling stories, and between that and dinner and supper… that was the fastest 5 hours I’ve spent in a long time.
I love the internet, I love my digital friends and digital stories I’ve read and told.
But damn, you can’t beat the real thing.
*the hearth is based on The Moth, a storytelling organisation/event in NYC… check it out (and the podcast) here. Good stuff