A National Day of Listening

This Thanksgiving, StoryCorps asks you to start a new holiday tradition?set aside one hour on Friday, November 28th, to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or a familiar face from the neighborhood.

You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as tape recorders, computers, video cameras or a pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which method of recording you prefer.

We hope that you?ll make a yearly tradition of listening to and preserving a loved one?s story. The stories you collect will surely become treasured keepsakes, growing more valuable with each passing generation.

–from www.nationaldayoflistening.org

To help you in this project, the National Day of Listening site offers a 2-page Do-It-Yourself Guide (PDF) that leads you through the steps of preparing for and recording an interview with a friend or family member (my favorite tip: “Be curious and honest, and keep an open heart”), and an online question generator.

And when you have listened to and recorded each others’ stories, visit the StoryCorps Listening Page to hear from the father who learned to read when his kids were grown or Julio Diaz, the Desert Father of the Bronx, or to explore other tales of friendship, wisdom, struggle, discovery, and more. You can also check out their new book, Listening Is an Act of Love.

StoryCorps aims to have participants stage an event and end up with a product, a recorded interview that can be passed down the generations or published to the world. The product is wonderful, but is is the practice of conversation, rather than any single event, that is truly powerful and valuable. That’s the lesson I learned with Nicole at Marriage Encounter, a ministry that builds up marriages not by telling you how your relationship should look, but by prying open the gates of conversation.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Get a pad of paper and a pen or pencil for both of you, and set aside 20-60 minutes of uninterrupted time. You choose how long you want to spend.
  2. Choose a question from the amazing Lifetime List of Dialog Questions. (There are 36,900 questions to choose from, organized by keyword. Hit the “???” button for a random selection.)
  3. Set a timer for half of the time you have set aside (i.e., 10-30 minutes), and spend that time writing your response to the question in your notebook. You can phrase it as a letter to your spouse, if you wish, but now is not the time to talk to him or her, or to give any hint of what you think of the question. Just write, to use the StoryCorps phrase, “honestly with an open heart.”
  4. When the timer goes off, trade notebooks with your spouse. Read through what your spouse wrote two times, “once with your heart, once with your head.” That is, treat your emotions as you read with both respect and reflection.
  5. Then talk & listen — discover each other: where did your answers match, where did you differ, what more can you say, what must you say, and HDIFAT? When the second half of your time is up, say a prayer or blessing if you like, and go on to the next thing in your life together.
  6. Do it again in a week.

That’s all. Only connect. Don’t let the mundane stand in the way. Make the time. Find other couples to encourage and support you in this practice. It’s simple, but it can mean the world.



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