Stranger than fiction

What a day.  Busy as all get out, but busy is good and for that among many other reasons, I am blessed.

I haven't found myself writing much over the past few weeks.  But I've decided to be alright with that - and wait for the authentic voice to return at its leisure.

One of the great things about my job is that I get to meet really interesting people.  I had a fascinating conversation with a client today who told me about some of the challenges in his earlier life, including a drug case where he was arrested for transporting nearly fifty pounds of marijuana, and nine different children by several different mothers!  He'd also served in the military and had done some interesting work during his service there.  He was one of the most personable characters I've met in a long time.  The opposing party in his case also proved to be interesting.  He was a former professional rodeo rider, apparently successful enough to have been sponsored by Ford at some point.  In talking a little about how the former rodeo rider got into the bar business, he shared that he had started out by buying the bar his cheating wife had taken her boyfriend to on a regular basis so that he could ban them from going to the sole watering hole in their small Mississippi hometown.  I don't know that Mark Twain would have been able to conjure up a story that good had he tried.

Real life so often proves stranger than fiction.  I have taken a break from some of the heavier reading I've been mired in over the past few months and just finished a great short novel titled Secret Life of Bees.  Among the themes is letting go of the past and wrestling with the demons of insecurity and transference.  I have read more books than I can count from notable authors which approach these topics from an ... academic perspective.  Which is well and good and I seem to remember about three percent of what I read in those books for a durational period of two to three days.  At best. 

But in reading about the Bees, I was reminded about the value of great storytelling.  The most interesting people that I meet are great storytellers.  And I can listen to great stories more than once.  Among my all time favorites, and one that I can listen to over and over again, is Robert Brown's tale of wooing his German bride in the 1960s in Berlin, while she worked as the translator at her father's British Motor Cars dealership.  I am alas, a hopeless romantic.  Listen to my StoryCorps interview of Robert Brown, http://www.ryanbarnett.com/search/label/Robert%20M.%20Brown.

Clearly the value of stories is greater than the highbrow brainy stuff - at least when it comes to the real important things like love, pain, and relational interplay.  And it is amazing how a storyteller can cut to the quick of a deep historical wound, or draw out feelings and memories one has forgotten he had.  The great storyteller, as an Occam's spiritual razor so to speak, draws out from each of us that which otherwise hides incessantly.

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