“There is ecstasy in paying attention,” Anne Lamott wrote in her fabulous Bird by Bird. “If you start to look around, you start to see.”
I’ve noticed that the moment I start paying attention to something in particular—dragonflies, cultural avoidance of the topic of death, the presence of typos—it is everywhere. So when I’m searching, I am waiting to actually see. If I want to be shown, all I have to do is look.
We talk to brave people all the time who are ready to tell their stories, but are afraid they don’t actually have stories to tell. Of course they do. It’s our job to tease them out and make them sing, but our clients have a job to do too.
If you are searching for your story, your work now is, simply, to look around. Suspend the babble of your rational mind and give yourself over to the glory of detail without worrying what fits or makes sense or is consistent with your brand identity. Just gather it all in. Feasting on the telling details of your own story is kind of like turning into the reader of your own story. Read it for pleasure, not because you feel you have to.
Stories may have a beginning, middle and end, but the good ones rarely start right at the beginning. They erupt abruptly, in unguarded moments and at the most inconvenient or unexpected times. Your own story might start with your trip to the grocery store this morning, and the brief conversation you had in the waffle and juice aisle with the Vietnam Vet who reminded you of all the things you never said to your father. Who knows? Rather than worry about it, give yourself permission to discover it.