The Story of My LIfe

Avatar_DavidBentley Tell my life story in 45 minutes. How difficult could that be? After all I’d been an eyewitness to every, single event. I knew the entire cast of characters. I was intimately familiar with the good, the bad, and the ugly from both the past and the present. With more years in my life than minutes allotted to recount them, I had plenty of material to work with. Still, preparing to give this speech had become a daunting task.

What should I leave out? What should I emphasize? What will the audience want to hear? Will they be able to relate to any of this, or merely be bored with it all? Should I spruce it up a bit? Stick to the facts, or go for the laughs? What important lessons could be learned from this exercise? How in the world did I get myself into this situation? If I claimed sudden illness, would they ask me to reschedule? Would I just be putting off the inevitable?

Calming myself down, I decided to stick to the basics of storytelling: beginning, middle, and end (that is end for now - I still have a few years left). Yes, I could talk about how my life began; what happened; and how things are, now. I was on a roll. Soon I had three pages of notes in outline form.

A few days later, at the appointed hour, I showed up with notes in hand. After a few preliminaries and introductions, I told my story. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I tried to stick to my outline. There were some nodding heads in the audience. There were a few laughs. There were even some tears shed (and not mine, I might add). Then, after talking for exactly 44 minutes, I heard myself say, "Thank-you."

Afterward, people told me parts of their own stories that were similar to mine. Quickly it became evident that all of us had more similarities than differences. I sincerely hope that I can remember this fact the next time I find myself thinking that I'm unique.

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley