Tonight I went to a book signing at a local Barnes and Noble. The book is by Dave Isay, and it's called Listening Is an Act of Love.
Dave's a fascinating guy, devoted to collecting an oral history of America. Not famous people, not wealthy people or politicians or scientists -- he wants to hear the stories of you and me, our parents and grandparents, and what life means to us. The book contains stories from the first 10,000 interviews. He played excepts from about half a dozen of the stories: funny ones, touching ones, infuriating ones.
He had a special guest there, a guy whose StoryCorps interview was selected for the book. He is one of the rare people who survived the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. He was on the 101st floor when the first plane hit, and he managed to get all the way down the stairs to safety. All through the other stories I managed to keep my shit together, but when he read his story -- especially the part when he gets home to his wife -- that did it. I had to wipe my eyes.
Dave kept saying that everyone needs to do this, that everyone should participate in whatever way possible. So when he asked for questions, I raised my hand and just said, "I did a StoryCorps interview with my 96-year old mother, and you're right; it's an amazing experience."
And that was all I could manage to croak out before I... well, sorta choked up.
Of course I bought the book. When I went up to get it signed, I asked him to sign it "To Anna and Mary" because I'm going to lend it to Mom to read. He added a little note "So glad you could be part of the StoryCorps project."
You could be, too. Grab a tape recorder, a notebook and a pen, go to a StoryCorps booth location with a friend, or a relative, or anyone. Ask questions, and listen. It's an amazing experience; it's an act of love.