Marjorie JamesI talked last week about private storytelling and what it can do for our lives. I recently listened to a speaker who put this whole concept into reality. An important factoid about her is that she is what we would euphemistically call a “senior citizen.” That comes into play near the end of her story!

She was flying to another city for a speaking engagement and reached her gate in plenty of time – she thought. She stopped at a coffee shop in the airport for a drink to take on the plane and paid with a $20 bill. As she got her change, the announcement was made for last boarding on her flight. She stuffed the change into her pocket and ran as well as she could with a cup of hot coffee in her hand.

After she got settled in the plane, she discovered that she had been given change for ten dollars. Thus began her slow burn. How dare that young man short-change her! After “stewing” for about ten minutes, she decided to make up a story to help her deal with this “coffee change thief.”

He, she decided, was working to earn money so he could help his ailing mother buy her much-needed medicine. He worked hard but was still struggling, so he would periodically short-change someone and pocket the money. He was a loving son doing what he could.

She said that developing her story allowed her to worry less and less about her lost money. After all, she could afford it more than his poor, sick mother! The rest of the flight, she felt at peace.

As she headed back home after her speech, she started thinking about getting her money back. Again, she was getting angry, so she crafted a story. The young man would be at the coffee shop, and she would sit with him while he ate lunch, listening to his tearful story about his mother. They would talk all the way through lunch, fall in love, and live happily ever after with his mother near a beach in Hawaii!

She never told us whether she got her change back or not; somehow, it did not seem all that important any more. Her point was that we have a choice between seething with anger, driving our blood pressure up, or deciding that it life is too short to live that way!

I tried storytelling when an impatient young man was driving right on my “tail” as I slowed down in a school zone. He was revving his engine and yelling at me, and then decided to go to my right through a parking lane in front of the school. He had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a sign and reacted by giving me the universal hand signal of the rude and angry. I ended up laughing, not because I had developed a good story but because he was being such a fool. Obviously, I have a way to go on this whole storytelling thing!

Copyright 2014. Marjorie E. James. All rights reserved.