“Many words will be written on the wind and the sand, or end up in some obscure digital vault. But the storytelling will go on until the last human being stops listening. Then we can send the great chronicle of humanity out into the endless universe.”
— Henning Mankell
Let’s talk about storytelling.
Over the past 22 weeks, the “Focal Point” column has visited a lot of topics, places and times, introduced you to people you didn’t know, talked about heroes and villains, ordinary folks and extraordinary individuals.
We’ve worked a summer in the tire repair shop, rode the “man-lift” to the top of a Kansas grain elevator and picked up trash alongside a Texas country road.
We tried our skills at calling in coyotes on a cold winter night, played spades in Saigon, crossed the Ohio River on the blue bridge, flew across the Gulf station driveway when the chamois squeezer blew and revisited a long-ago New Year’s Eve “rabbit hunt gone wrong.”
We said goodbye to a boyhood friend, learned a lesson in life from a box of rusty nuts and bolts and honored more than a few heroes.
One story of tragedy at sea was spawned from a letter found in my mother-in-law’s recipe box. Another was drawn from a veteran’s last mission to search for his submarine at the Navy Museum in Washington. And we introduced you to the amazing poetry of a warrior-poet lost in the jungles of Vietnam for three decades.
We’re just getting started.
This week, “Focal Point” moves to a new day of the week. In its new Wednesday spot, it will anchor the front of our new “My Generation” section.
The “Focal Point” column has always been about storytelling. That fits well with the theme of “My Generation,” which will celebrate members of those generations who still relish a good joke, enjoy a well-written ballad and lose themselves in a good book.
Whether you are a “Baby Boomer,” someone molded by the Cold War or a member of the “Greatest Generation,” we hope you find much to like in the pages of “My Generation.”
Our writers will seek out and spotlight extraordinary folks who are making a difference. We’ll highlight activities and opportunities for active seniors. And we’ll look for articles to help you make the most of your retirement years.
As for Focal Point, it will go on telling stories … yours, mine and ours.
“Everyone has at least one story in them,” I told a group of Vietnam veterans earlier this month in Palestine. Sometimes the best person to tell that story is the one who lived it.
Your stories, in your words, will be highlighted in a section of My Generation we want to call “My Story.” If you are a decent writer, or if you tell a good story and don’t mind a little editing, send us your story. If you’re in the middle of writing your memoirs, send us Chapter 12… that story even your kids hadn’t heard.
We’ll put your name on it, use your photo, and share it with your neighbors. Some ground rules are in order. Keep them short, around 600-750 words. Don’t tell your whole story, just one slice, one incident or adventure in an otherwise amazing life.
We’ll start out with “One Amazing Evening” by Art Elchek, 89, Tyler, a World War II veteran who served on PT boats in the Pacific. His story, which actually occurred after the war, will be in our April 9 edition.
But whether you have a story to tell or know of a person whose story needs to be told… let us know. Tell us about the amazing people around us… the unsung heroes, those who deserve our adulation… yet never seek it.
There is nothing sadder, in my estimation, than reading about an extraordinary life for the first time in an obituary. We want to tell those stories now, while our subjects can still be embarrassed by “all this fuss about nothing.”
Why? Because, it’s not “nothing.” It’s the story of our lives, what makes our time on earth interesting, what encourages us, inspires us, makes us laugh and keeps us moving forward. It’s what we leave behind.
Dave Berry is editor of The Tyler Morning Telegraph. His column, beginning Wednesday, will appear on the front of the My Generation section. Earlier columns can be found on TylerPaper.com under News/Opinion or by searching for the words “Focal Point.” Thanks for reading, and let us hear from you.