The story within the story
An email flashed across my computer screen a few days ago from a high school friend informing our class we are having another mini-reunion in LaGrange in October. My response, “Well, YIPPEE!”
When you reach an age in which you can’t quite recall the class reunion held five years ago, then it is probably wise to unite every year. We always have a blast, and I love seeing this group of folks who welcomed me with open arms as a sophomore transplant from Tennessee years ago.
When I saw the note from Jerry, I recalled it was four years ago, just before our 50th class reunion, I wrote a story about LaGrange and my high school class of 1965. It is funny how God works, and you may know the story, but it is worth repeating a brief summary.
I was winding down my long interior design career and knew that when and if I ever had the opportunity, I would begin my first love, writing. During the last few weeks before putting the tape measure down, I couldn’t sleep. It was as if God was poking me on the shoulder the minute my head hit the pillow.
Many sleepless nights filled with countless, non-cohesive stories whirled and irritated my mind. Finally, I asked God, “If you want me to write so urgently, then give me the first sentence.” By the time I poured my first cup of coffee the following morning, the first narrative had taken shape.
Within a few hours, I wrote over 2,000 words. I had no idea what to do with the story, but since it was about the town of LaGrange and my high school, I decided to send it to the LaGrange newspaper. An opinion column for a paper is at the most 800 words. Who would publish this long personal tale? It was a ridiculous thought, but I sent it anyway.
Within a few days, the then editor, Matthew, called to tell me he wanted to publish the story in its entirety in three editions of the LaGrange News. Within a month following its publication, my weekly column began.
During a meeting several weeks later, I asked Matthew why he decided to use a human-interest column as a weekly feature. He responded, “We were receiving a few complaints regarding the harsh nature of some articles and decided to publish a down-home, more inspirational column. You just had the right timing.”
Matthew was a little ahead of his time. After four years, newspapers are opting to not only present the news but are increasingly choosing to also publish slices of life. Inspirational stories with a variety of uplifting topics regarding human kindness are being used to hopefully deflect the bullies, naysayers and doomsday experts of the world.
In four short years, my ‘slice of life’ columns have appeared not only in other Georgia newspapers but in USA Today affiliated papers in other states. More uplifting articles are now included in various media outlets across the country. Now, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has decided to jump on the moving train of publishing inspirational stories. It’s about time.
Our lives consist of love, loss, turmoil, family, friends, hard work and God. We all struggle and require hope and understanding each day. Most of us are not racist, do not judge by our political affiliation and are not glued to the ups and downs of the stock market. We are the heartbeat of our country.
When I first began my column, a few thought it was silly fodder and not relevant in today’s world, but I kept writing and sending my stories to brave Matthew.
I overheard the oft derogatory whispers from doubtful friends and family, and even though it hurt, I continued because I felt a compelling need to reach out and share.
Inspiration is medicine to the soul. When we are not inspired or inspire others, we lose an opportunity to create. When we don’t share our stories, we lose a chance to help another.
Another of our LHS classmates uses text messaging to send a Bible verse every morning to countless folks. He never misses a day to start our mornings with a word from God. Another is a photographer who daily shares his beautiful pictures of nature on social media to capture harmony and peace. Lovely folks sharing lovely things are relevant and sorely needed in today’s world.
The heart-filled narratives of American citizens are about who we are. The dramatic headlines of daily news are essential to inform us of current events, but it is the stories that often go unpublished that shape our lives. Just like the LaGrange High School class of 1965 shaped mine.