Our world is increasingly becoming smaller. That has its perks. We can sit in our living rooms and witness events on the other side of the world in realtime. No other generation in history can claim that reality.
As global citizens, we begin to take ownership of things that do not belong to us. Another person's story is not our story. Yet, we go, and we tell it like it is ours.
Not every story belongs to us.
In the summer of 2017, I fell in love with the Mississippi Delta and the Blues. It was a summer of discovery as I walked paths formed by others' blood, sweat, and tears.
It was an emotional life-altering journey that impacted my daily life.
There is so much story there. That's unfamiliar to most.
Subconsciously, I made it my mission to tell the story of the Delta and the Blues.
After multiple visits and conversations, something in me said, "This is not your story."
I was disappointed because the world needs to know about this treasure.
Within seconds, I heard, "You must tell what the story did you."
That is when everything was put into perspective.
Not every story is ours to tell.
We hear and experience narratives that hit home and touch us in almost unspeakable ways.
Our first inclination is to tell the story. We feel that we have the right to make that tale our own. That's false.
Here is why.
Stories are about connection.
The story that impacted you so immensely is more about the power of the narrative than the narrative itself.
You experienced it in a time you needed it, and it changed you. Change is a good thing. However, you trace the change back to the tale and feel entitled to that story.
Something happens as we begin to retell it; it turns into a "You Had to Be There" moment.
If you're unfamiliar, a "You Had to Be There" moment is when the retelling of a moment that gets lost in translation.
We've all been there.
You were with your friends, and something happens that is just so funny. It is so ridiculous that everyone is laughing so hard they cannot catch their breath. People are doubled over, and some are on the floor. It was all because of a trigger word that exploded in that moment of hilarity. You know that everyone that hears about this will have the same gut-busting reaction.
You go to work the next day, and you tell your BFF what happened. And...nothing. No laughter. No amusement at all. After you realize, you say the dreaded phrase, "Well, I guess you just had to be there." It is disappointing because you know how good that moment was!
Stories that do not belong to you run the risk of the same fate.
On one of my Delta adventures, I became enamored with the story of Robert Johnson.
(Sidebar...If you don't know who Robert Johnson is, Robert Johnson is a Bluesman that supposedly sold his soul to the devil to play the Blues.)
The story astounded me.
It was scary and supernatural, and it seemed far-fetched, but, depending on your spiritual raising, plausible.
When I brought that story back and told it with fervor and passion, people looked at me like, "Ok...and?"
It was disheartening because the audience did not get it.
It was not my story to tell.
What stories can we tell?
You have the right to tell how the story changed you.
You have a right to the story of transformation.
How do you tell that story?
Stay tuned to find out!
Charlie McCoin is a teacher, a traveler, and a storyteller who works to help people discover and tell their stories.