Many of us barely make it through our days without drowning ourselves in coffee. And I must admit that there are some days where I need caffeine to make it through work, my night classes and life itself. But caffeine can only take me so far. Adventurous, humorous, inspiring, romantic and life-changing stories of the people I encounter every day keep me energized.
As a child, my mom and dad told me stories and showed me pictures of their travels, whether it was a sandy getaway to the Big Island of Hawaii; an art, culture and museum escape to Europe; a windmill of excitement in Holland; an opera paradise in Australia; or a sushi retreat in Japan. I would live vicariously through their stories, imagining I was with them every step of the way—seeing everything they saw, hearing everything they heard and smelling everything they smelled. I still continue to listen to the endless narratives, hoping that one day I will get the chance to experience them myself and, consequently, share my stories with others.
Growing up, I realized that amazing stories were everywhere and around every corner. I would indulge myself with my neighbor’s exciting stories as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I would get a surge of adrenaline rush every time he told me one of the infinite number of stories where he barely made the deadline or where he had to track down sources in order to get both sides of the story. My grandmother would shower me with stories about my grandfather, a prominent district attorney in Indonesia, who passionately worked hard to support his family and fight for justice in his country.
As a former cashier in a baby retail store, I heard several stories of miraculous births—some where the mother was thought to be barren. Or some where the doctors believed the babies only had a slim chance of survival, but are now healthy and crawling. And now, as a part-time receptionist for several law-firms, I get the privilege to listen to the lawyers’ stories of exhilarating days in the court room, from absurd judges to outrageous opening statements to crazy clients to shocking verdicts.
Every step I take is fueled by these stories. The stories I absorbed are a large part of who I have become and who I hope to be. My neighbor’s stories as a writer for the Los Angeles Times inspired me to do my own reporting and write my own stories. The stories I heard while working at a retail store made me realize that miracles are possible. My grandmother’s stories about my grandfather have motivated me to be as successful as he was in his career and to fight for my beliefs. And my parents’ stories of travel have encouraged me to see the world from every angle.
Before we had written history, we had oral history that was passed down from generation to generation. These stories have shaped who we are today. Stories surround us every day. They can be found anywhere and have the ability to change us if we are willing to listen to them. All we need to do is open our ears.