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Monday, April 8, 2013

Untold stories.

Much of life's depth and breath fail to be represented, talked about, written about. Our movies, television shows, social media seem to be inspired by the very fortunate or the criminal. Our institutions are either glamorized or condemned.

Where are the stories about working people without college degrees, without savings, without mortgages because they don't make enough money, or can't save enough to put the minimum money down to afford a home in a decent neighborhood? Where are the stories about successes and failures of our institutions, schools, hospitals, churches, charitable organizations?

Ordinary lives are rich with extraordinary depth.

I'm challenging us all to share not just the pieces of our lives we have always shared, but the rest of our context. Sometimes, what's all around us, as we see people at the drugstore, the movie theater, the coffee shop, the doctor's office, what should intrigue us is to tell stories never told, to illuminate lives of unexpected courage right around the corner.

We all know a retiree living on  meager Social Security vouchers,  on food stamps and other public assistance; or someone who is a working poor constantly trying to keep from losing ground, hoping a catastrophe is avoided; even someone who cares for a mentally or physically challenged family member, burdened by a task that would crush most; young people who are trying to start a career, but have limited skills, making no progress.

I've been thinking about this topic ever since reading a short story in the April 1 edition of The New Yorker, about a motel maid with a child she brings to work with her titled: "Marjorie Lemke" by Sarah Braunstein. www.newyorker.com

17 comments:

Kathleen McCoy said...

Excellent challenge, Rosaria! You've inspired me!

Indeed, those untold stories need to be told because our elected officials as well as the media seem to have this notion that if "entitlements" are cut, well, heck: the single, struggling working mother can just dip into her savings to pay for the groceries no longer covered by food stamps or to buy health insurance. Same with the retiree who can't find a job to supplement Social Security perhaps diminished further by changes to cost of living increases. So many people cannot envision a life without a financial safety net -- and yet so many do live that way.

Brian Miller said...

smiles..i like your challenge as well...the everyday stories that are often overlooked for the sensational...i rather like the everyday stories....

#1Nana said...

So true. Yesterday I visited such a friend. I can't write about it because it would invade her privacy...and she reads my blog, dang! She lives on disability and it is a meager, depressing way of life. She is one bad day away from disaster.

Karen Lange said...

I really think that everyone has a story - no stories - to tell. I see people and often wonder what their life is/was like. Good challenge, thank you! :)

erin said...

rosaria, i've been thinking about this lately, looking to popular culture's tv shows and movies to see what my children might be seeing. do you know i heard a program on public radio today suggesting that our children learn porn literacy because porn is so prevalent in pop culture. it is argued that they need the skills to decipher what they are sold as entertainment, which is what they might unwittingly take for reality. (this is, by the way, the same entertainment we consume, the general adult population often no more intelligent in their consumption of pop culture propaganda than children, and as wrong in the realities that they establish.)

while i think we do need to equip our children with skills to assess, i wonder why it is that we aren't more artful, that we don't expect more from the viewing population as a whole. i mean, if they wanted to they could motivate us to become intelligent and discerning consumers, since consumerism is their end goal.

i am starved for thoughtful story.

xo
erin

turquoisemoon said...

Nice challenge...

Eva Gallant said...

What you say is so true...there are so many untold stories out there. Some among us are living them.

ds said...

Oh, the challenges of every day for some would overwhelm the rest of us if we knew. Sometimes the greatest act of courage (or defiance) is simply getting out of bed in the morning...
Thank you for this.

Lydia said...

I love this post and your idea. My thoughts immediately went to my best childhood friend, with whom I reconnected via Facebook three years ago. Her lovely daughter has fought depression since giving birth to her daughter three years ago.....numerous suicide attempts and hospitalizations. The most recent was two weeks ago. My friend and her much-older husband work full time (she as manager of their mid-size town weekly newspaper), as does the son-in-law. Together they manage to split up the family so that the little girl is not cognizant (yet) of her mom's depression. After the most recent hospitalization, my friend's daughter will be living with her for a time, while the little girl remains at home with her dad. And through it all she remains one of the most positive people I have ever known. Truly a remarkable woman.

the walking man said...

It would appear as if I wrote about some ordinary Detroit lives today before being challenged. Yes I wrote it in my native tongue.

troutbirder said...

Your right about all of this. In our lives. I could be wrong about this but having grown up in the big city and spent most of my adult life in a small community where neighbors help neighbors there seems to be an inordinate amount of good stories of ordinary people here..... Still how to share them appropriately....?

Munir said...

Rosaria - - Challenges are always good. It is because of challenges we feel good as seniors. Is there anything I can do?

The Broad said...

Yesterday I attended the funeral of an elderly lady well-known in the church. Her nephew and nearest relative gave a brief address about her life and it occurred to me, not for the first time, that there are often so many things about a persons life that we only discover after death -- often their funeral. Beautiful lives, sad lives, extraordinary lives lost to us in the mist of time and too often, indifference. But how much is hidden because of our own reticence?

yaya said...

I have the privilege of working with extraordinary people in the health care field. I work with some lemons too..but everyone has a story. I often think when I see the cover of People magazine that we have idolized the wrong individuals. Who's a real hero? When I see the struggle of a cancer victim, the courage of a child with a disease that makes it impossible to be like all his peers, or a Doctor trying to do the right thing against the odds of insurance companies, government agencies, and corporate mandates, I know who the hero isn't..it isn't a movie star or singer or a "reality" star. Where's that "People" magazine article about them?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosarai .. definitely an idea of gold mine depth .. so much wealth in old stories .. tales to be told, lessons to be learnt ...

Love it - and I do hope we all add to the memory bank of stories written down ..

Cheers Hilary

Shelly said...

I'm here from Kathy's, and I'm shouting a hearty Amen. These are the best kind of stories to tell, and I just wrote on my blog about just such a person who learned to read in his 60's. Thank you for highlighting people like this!

Maggie May said...

I think we all know people who are struggling. In fact most people (apart from the upper crust) in England are definitely struggling because of the Benefits cuts etc.
Yes..... there were some who abused the system but the majority did not and this has meant that many people will be thrown onto the streets. England sold off much of its Social Housing and didn't replace them. Now ordinary folk are paying the price.
Disabled will be classed as OK to work & benefits will stop but who will employ them? There aren't enough jobs for able bodied folk and sometimes hundreds apply for one job.
I fear for the future generations who will never work or own a home .... even though they have a degree.
Maggie x

Nuts in May