I have to admit that one of the things I'm most looking forward to...traveling solo to Chicago to run a half marathon...is the collection of stories.
I'm not sure why, but for as long as I can remember, perfectly good strangers have always been willing and primed to tell me their tales.
Truly. It happens to me on planes, in the line at the grocery store, at dinner parties, while pumping gas and certainly in the usual suspect spots like at the kids' schools or on the playground.
But the truth is, I love it. And, I really can't help myself. I typically probe to learn more. Dip in and draw out the back story. Learn about the idiosyncrasies of the characters. Affirm where they're at in the process and often find a nugget of wisdom that I can take from the situation.
So the other day at the park when I was yelling at my two older kiddos to not ride so far on their bikes and trying to keep my toddler from launching off of play equipment, I was surprised.
A very sweet woman with a baby wrap around her front came walking up to me.
"You probably don't remember me. But we met last spring at another park when I was pregnant. You were so nice to me and told me that having three children was a huge gift and that it was going to be okay."
And then, I remembered her. She was the one with tears in her eyes scared about the future.
She gave me a big smile and said thanks for listening to me that day. You're right. It's hard, but I wouldn't trade it.
All of our lives are a collection of stories universally connected by themes of love, joy, pain, hurt, regret, and hope.
I'm thankful when I take the time to get to know another and realize that we're not so far apart in our journeys. Often, it only takes a few moments to appreciate that we're really not such strangers after all.
Stories are a beautiful thing.