I attended a course last week called Women Presenting Powerfully. Not my kind of course really but it was interesting enough. A lot of Steve Jobs, in which I fail to see the fascination – maybe he was a good speaker but he was presenting on computers! I certainly felt no empathy or understanding for him. And he doesn’t make me want to buy Apple products.
We were all required, asked, whatever, in the end we all made a short speech, the only requirement being that it was something we were passionate about. There is little that I am passionate about outside my family (and a number of people spoke of their family or pets). I tried really hard to think of another story but all my stories return to one story.
I thought of talking about work – I could have spun a great tale of trading collective investment vehicles. I am sure I could have made it sound interesting. I thought of talking about travelling – I have many, many tales of travelling. Then there was my husband, my sons, my family. But all the stories led to one story.
I have only one story. So I tried to tell my one story. I had about three minutes to tell my story (almost impossible). I started on about how I didn’t understand Steve Jobs but there was one thing he said that rang in my head. He said that you should always think of death and remember that you will die, and that is how you should lead your life.
I believe that. You should lead your life in awareness of your death. Because we will all die. That is life. Without death, there is no life.
I told them that I remembered dying; that it was dark, quiet and peaceful. Then I explained that the last time I had stood in front of a number of people to speak was at my daughter’s funeral. And I began the story of a family on a beach running for their lives, although I didn’t tell it as well as I would have liked. I was nervous and I could feel the emotion getting to me.
I know that people think you should not define yourself by one story but that is all I have. All my stories lead to one story. All my stories lead to my daughter. I have no other stories.
I can talk of stress, of children, of work, of love, of happiness, of sadness and of pain, but it all leads to Clea. She is my story. She is her own story.
I felt shaken and emotional after I spoke as though I had done the wrong thing. Why can’t I stand there and tell some funny story of travelling adventure (I have plenty of those)? Why can’t I tell stories of my dysfunctional family (I have plenty of those too)? Why do I make peopel listen to this horrible story? Because it is so horrible and because it is part of life.
The facilitator told us to think in threes – I have three things to say, I believe three things etc – and I wrote that I am passionate about three things: being real or authentic; being principled; and, being brave. All those attributes lead to Clea. That’s why I told and continue to tell my daughter’s story. She does not live her story.
My friends’ grandson died unexpectedly last week and now they, and his parents, will tell his story because Joe is not here to live his story.
As Clea’s grave stone says “Nuestros corazones, son un solo corazón” – our hearts are but one heart. Maybe our stories are but one story.