It's a question I get a lot. Whether it's stories that I'm sharing on the golf course or at the dinner table or on the stage, I always have a new story to tell.
A small part of this is the unusual life that I've led, filled with chaos, bad luck, and at times, disaster. My friend and the Artistic Director of The Moth Catherine Burns has said to me, "You either have a good time or you have a good story."
A much larger part of it is the system that I use to find stories in my life called Homework for Life. People who use my system with fidelity and rigor find themselves awash in stories about their lives. It works.
But having many stories to tell also has a lot to do with the understanding that a story is not always a series of fantastic events or shocking developments. You need not move mountains to have a great story to tell. A story can be small. Infinitesimal, really, if it speaks to something about your heart, reflects your experience as a human being, or offers some fundamental truth about who you are.
That's why I love Bill Bernat's story "Oreo Relapse," which was featured on The Moth Radio Hour last week. Bill's entire story - more than five minutes long - takes place in a grocery aisle as he tries to decide if he will purchase a bag of Oreo cookies and thus fall off his dietary wagon.
That's it. If I were to summarize the story, I would say, "Man battles his inner cookie demons as he tries to decide if he should purchase a bag of Oreos."
And yet the story is filled with humor and heart. It speaks to something universal in all of us:
The power of temptation. The fragility of will power. Our constant inner battle of right vs. wrong. The shame of not having full control over our desires.
Bernat's story is brilliant in its simplicity. Very little happens in the story, yet when he is finished, I feel like I have been offered an honest, unflinching look at the man's soul. I feel connected to the man. I love the guy.
I don't know Bill Bernat, but I bet he has lots and lots of stories to tell.
"Nothing interesting ever happens to me."
"My life is boring."
"Nothing too terrible has ever happened to me."
Refrains I hear all the time to would-be storytellers who worry that unless you've died on the side of the road or been arrested for a crime you didn't commit or lived on the streets, you won't have any good stories to tell.
Not even close to true.
If you are willing to speak honestly, embrace vulnerability, think introspectively, and share a part of you that most would not normally share, you will have more stories than you could ever imagine.
Do your Homework for Life.
Listen to Bill Bernat's story.
Become the person who always has a new story to tell.