One reason I think I'll remember this Christmas for a long time, is that this year I learnt that everyone has a story to tell. In a room of people aged between 20-78 I simply asked someone tell me a story, and people were falling over themselves to tell me their story. Polish, Jewish, Irish, English gathered to tell me tales across four continents. My world became bigger and better with every one.
Perhaps one of my biggest post-graduation problems is escaping mundanity. Life is just so full of bus rides, tube journeys, queueing and stock-question, stock-answer scenarios. Lots of sterile conversation, lack of eye contact and faux sincerity. Can be quite maddening when you notice it everywhere.
My lack of updates has been in part to my new job, I too have aspired to the dizzying height of unpaid desk drone complete with personalised email version 2.0. Unfortunately the most terrible and repetitive conversation many of you will have post-graduation is 'What do you do?' I seem to remember when social status came from a delicate distillation of guesswork of intellectual capacity, relative confidence and interests. Personally I'd prefer 'Shaughan, just tell me a story'
It almost feels like people can't even be bothered any more, I expect the American approach to be next- 'Sorry buster, too busy to ascertain your relative personal wealth could you just write down your numerical value on a piece of paper please?' . Perhaps the deeper tragedy is when they find my actual market net worth currently resides at £0 PA. The come hither eyes rarely work after that bombshell.
It was nice to see Christine recently, we both banned the topic of 'career development' an as such talked about the correct use of punctuation. I hadn't laughed about grammar in a long time, and to many of you probably sounds like the conversational version of hell, but for me the hyphens of hope spelled an end to mundane, samey conversation I'd gotten used to. It was different, unique and a conversation I'd probably never have with someone else.
It held value because it was both personal and rare, a celebration of our nerdy interest in language and formed a connection between us in a marvellously comic framework. It struck me at that moment she is very good at telling stories. Has anyone ever told you story about a hyphen that made you laugh? All about how you tell it. Told you she was good.
This experience reminded me of the value of telling stories, since then I've been a small mission of mine to start telling a few stock tales. It's a pleasant reminder for me that life isn't always mundane. Sit me down and ask me and I can recall the time I was almost killed by the Bulgarian Mafia, my interesting experience at my first and last Students Association dinner and the time I accidentally looted a listed building. Those are just the ones that made it's past Dolansphere's PR team.
The best part is these are self-contained little epics is that each one contains elements of comedy, tragedy and the overcoming of the absurd and extraordinary. I've found them great with connecting with people, because it ends our association to the familiar. Because it presents something about us both funny and vulnerable. Gives an insight into often bizarre events that have shaped me.
Now being a 21st century male a sizable amount of my life is to do about escapism. Books, Movies, TV, Radio, the internet, Video games and alcohol keep me suitably removed from the world around me for most of my spare time. Probably because these media are all very good at telling stories, maybe we feel we don't have to any more.
In an age overloaded with information we need to hang onto that which is personal, and our stories are little pieces of our identity. If we forget them we forget part of ourselves.
Lets stop asking questions and start telling stories. Maybe then we'll get some meaningful answers.