I love hearing other people's life stories. Their real stories. About how they ended up where they are. I love to hear why they do the work they do: whether it was by chance (vluk) or by design. I love to hear about how they ended up in the relationships they have. Why they stayed or left. How they feel about it all. I just LOVE it all. I could talk to people, both random strangers and friends, for hours, about their lives.
This was one of the things I really enjoyed about working in retail (a jewelery store), way back when. I got to hear people's stories.
I would hear the customer's stories of how they met and got engaged when selling them an engagement ring, or I heard about a long and happy marriage when they bought commemorative jewelery.
I also loved hearing my colleagues life-stories. Like the divorced single mom who worked these crazy retail hours to support her child when she was actually qualified to do better things, but those things didn't pay as well. And the store assistant, who, in her thirties, was working two jobs and studying law. Or the young single Afrikaans guy who had the sweetest and softest heart and was looking to make his way in the world.
We all eventually moved on to other jobs and parted ways, but I have also loved hearing how these people are doing now, what paths their lives have taken, and how they feel and how they are doing. It's not often you get a true glimpse inside someone's life, and even more rare when you get a glimpse of how they really feel about their lives, so when I get that, I am enraptured and enthralled. I like to compare their life to mine, not in a mean way, but just for interest sake and sometimes to take stock.
Other than that, I don't know why I love it so much, hearing life stories, but it explains my love for reading biographies and autobiographies, and the latest trend, memoirs. I really love it when someone is gut-wrenchingly honest in the telling of their tale, because I guess it helps me figure out how I feel about my own life and it's experiences.
I guess I love hearing other people's stories because it always helps put my own (seemingly lost and drifting) life story into perspective. I feel luckier and also less than. Some stories and people inspire me to do more and be more, others make me feel grateful for the small life I have led so far.
Like a lot of us, I too am plagued with questions like: what should I have done with my life? Should I have done more? Less? Taken a different path? Is this the right path I am on?
But the older I get, the less these questions mean to me. The older I get, the more I see that my path is fine, simply because I am on it. And at the risk of rhyming here, I will say that my path is fine because it's mine.
I am starting to think that it doesn't really matter whether I earn millions or not. Whether I married or not. Whether I even become the writer that I still dream of becoming or not. Because ultimately, what matters is who I am being, not what I am doing or achieving.
But it's still nice to swop life stories with old friends and new, just for interests' sake.