My anti-story-stomping endeavor is now six days old. I really should come up with a better name. Something pithy. I like pithy. Now accepting suggestions.
For those of you who are reading only this, my third post, and don't want to bother scrolling down to read the first two (it would only take a couple minutes. But, I understand if you're busy), I'll recap my experiment. For the next year (less 6 days), I will not reply to anyone's story with a story of my own. Unless someone finishes a story, and then asks, "Beth, has anything like that ever happened to you?", the most I will do is nod and ask for more details about their story. That's only if I find it somewhat interesting. If not, I'll say, "Isn't that nice?" (assuming nice is what it is...I might have to use another word in its place. Fortunately, I know lots of them) and then pretend I hear someone calling me.
If you're asking yourself what led me to this point, go ahead and scroll down. Read my first post. It won't kill you. Then read the second. Then tell your friends to read them. If you know anyone in publishing, ask them nicely (but firmly) to read them, and mention that I'm also writing a book. It's not about this. Why would I blog about the same material that's in my, as yet, unpublished book? That'd be stupid.
I'm sure you're all chomping at the bit to know if my efforts have achieved anything. Well, no one has turned to me and said, "You are such a good listener! I feel so validated talking to you!" if that's what you're wondering. Though, I am sure I'll have experienced a lot of that by this time next year. Like pebbles dropped in a pond, the ripples are making their way out into the world.
But for me, it's an enormous exercise in self-control. I have stopped myself from uttering any sentence that begins with, "Once, I..." an average of 72 times a day since last Thursday. Nobody seems to have noticed. I'm that good.
Those who know me well know that self-control isn't a phrase often combined with my name in a sentence- unless that sentence is, "Beth, for the love of God, show some self-control, please!" I've actually heard that quite a few times.
And yet, this year not only have I stopped eating meat, I've stopped hurling my stories at unsuspecting victims. All things considered, the meat thing is much, much easier than the story thing. Yes, I've had several more months of practice as a non-meat eater. But, so far, I haven't held a piece of filet mignon all the way up to my lips before I remembered that I couldn't let it pass them. It's quite a bit more difficult to remember that certain words shouldn't pass my lips. Evidently, it's less of an effort to control what goes in my mouth than what comes out.
I know what you're thinking. Going meatless and storyless in the same year? This is epic! Why these two life-changing commitments at the same time? Ok, "life-changing" is a bit of a stretch for the anti-story-stomping undertaking (I really do have to come up with a catchier name). And, to tell the truth, considering what a hard-core carnivore I used to be, the meat-free lifestyle is surprisingly easy to stick to. Anytime I'm tempted to eat meat, I picture Babe or Wilbur, or some sweet brown-eyed cow or pretty little lamb. No meat, no problem. The repercussions of trumping someone else's story with my own are somewhat harder to picture in my head.
So, I try to focus on my objective in doing this. That is to be a good listener. To stop competing to get myself heard when someone else is talking. While, I hope to never go back to eating meat, I will- as of May 10, 2013- go back to telling my stories. But, by then I think that, perhaps, I will know how to choose stories that enrich and contribute to the conversation. I will be hearing what you say rather than just looking for a break in your story in which to insert mine.
As my cousin Lisa pointed out, everyone has a story. I can't hear yours if I'm busy telling you mine.