In my experience, a road trip is one of the best times to really connect with someone and share stories. There is something about it that lends itself to a good conversation. You’re sitting in the car for a long time, both facing the long road in front of you. You don’t have to make eye contact; in fact you probably shouldn’t make very much eye contact if you are the driver. While you gaze at the road stretching out ahead your mind’s eye is free to re-imagine your memories. The future is unknown. But the past is full of stories.
All it takes is a question to get rolling on down memory lane: Tell me about the time... Remember when we...? What was it like…?
I recently had the opportunity to interview someone in the car. It wasn’t a long road trip. I happened to be in the DC area for a conference and I decided to visit someone special. We were zipping along the George Washington Parkway on our way into the city from the suburbs, a one-hour commute each way. But these moments were precious and I squeezed every little morsel of story-telling opportunity I could from my interviewee.
I directed my microphone towards Scott, a long-time friend of my father.
My father passed away eleven years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I wished he were around so I could ask him questions about our family, to hear his stories of growing up. I want to know so many things. Seems like there are some good family mysteries lurking in the shadows. Since my dad and his two brothers have died there aren’t many who can answer my questions and tell me the stories.
My dad and Scott go way back, all the way to second grade. My dad spent so much time at Scott’s house that a neighbor thought they were brothers. Scott and dad stayed friends till the very end, even when they lived thousands of miles apart. Scott was a perfect choice to interview about my father.
When we got back to his house in Alexandria we sat in the driveway for an hour just talking and sharing memories of my father. I won’t go into all of the stories Scott told me, but I will tell you this – I feel like I have my father back. What a special gift.
Scott’s stories brought the spirit of my father back to life inside my heart.
This is truly the power of stories, of memories. We have the power to give life with our stories.
Rather than buying something at the store, one of the best gifts you can give is to share your memories. You might tell a young child in your family a story about their grandparents.
You can also give someone the gift of listening, and that is powerful too. Ask someone to tell you one of their stories. Be sure to really listen.