By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
If you get a chance, check the Living section on Sunday to read about William Waldrop.William’s in the big leagues, metaphorically speaking. He knew where he wanted to go in life before high school, and now he’s living the dream, as they say.
He has a great story that goes from Pontotoc all the way to … well, we’ll save the specifics for Sunday.
I’ve been in the newspaper business for about 20 years, and that’s a lot of conversations with a wide swath of people. They swirl together in memory, and I’m ashamed to say names are the first to go, but the stories hang on:
* The lady crawling to safety after the Sunset Limited disaster.
* The young bullfighter and his shiny belt buckle.
* The wrinkled woman watching her home burn.
* The singing ringmaster and his britches.
* The empty four-wheeler that two girls rode to their deaths.
* The old man, his great-great-grandmother and their rock wall.
* The guy with a secret about Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra.
* The filmmaker and movie evangelist who liked to call me a “clown.”
* The woman from across the sea who made a new home and learned to say, “Y’all.”
* The man who pronounced Iwo Jima with long “I” sounds instead of “E,” but he’d earned the right to say it however the hell he wanted to say it.
The stories go on and on, and everybody’s got one. A friend turned me down for an interview once, protesting that he didn’t have anything worth telling.
I forgave him for lying because he probably believed he was being honest. People don’t always know how interesting their lives are.
I had an uncle who delivered jokes in the most offhand way, all casual with stops and starts that listeners didn’t seem to mind.
He was usually smoking a cigarette, so the joke emerged from a gray cloud and was often accompanied by a pause so he could cough or spit, then came the punch line and it almost always hit.
He was an artist, and he wasn’t the only one. We’re all programmed for stories.
Mothers get on the phone or Facebook and report the latest doings of their little darlings. Office workers huddle to gossip about anybody and everybody outside the huddle.
Politicians try to frame the narrative most likely to get them elected. We compare what candidates say to our worldviews, the bundled up stories we tell ourselves.
I’ve gone and worked myself into a frenzy, and feel compelled to spread the gospel: Share your stories, one and all! Share them far and wide!
Of course, that’s silly. We couldn’t stop telling stories if we tried, but here’s a gospel worth spreading: Listen to somebody else’s story and see where it takes you.
Trust me on this.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.