In 1966 my sister, Ruth, and I spent eight summer weeks in St. Mawes, Cornwall, a sleepy fishing village with a population of perhaps 200 souls. My grandmother had fallen in love with a two bedroom thatched cottage that had been built in 1450 as sleeping quarters for the guards at St. Mawes Castle.
During that summer we had no television, no VCR, no CD player, no iPod, no Internet and no computer games. We didn’t even have a telephone; we used the payphone at the village square. (Eventually they did get a telephone and were assigned the number 414. In the USA we use 414 as the area code for the entire eastern half of Wisconsin.)
My sister and I did find a few books, but mostly we had our grandparents as entertainment.
We spent our days listening to their stories. I’d estimate: 4 hours/day, 5 days/week (assume weekends off), 8 weeks total. That comes to 160 hours of storytelling.
My sister and I were fascinated by their stories, however we were somewhat annoyed. In their presence we felt we had so few interesting things to say.
In that sleepy village, in that ancient house, we heard of how they: had survived three revolutions in Latin America, how they crossed the Andes on mules carrying short-wave radio equipment, and how they were in the Caribbean on a German tramp steamer headed for the Netherlands Antilles on the day the US entered World War II.
I’m scratching the surface here…
At the end of that summer I asked my grandmother, “How do we ever get to have so many stories of our own?”
She said, “Live an interesting life and collect your stories. Do that and when you are our age you will have plenty to say to your grandchildren.”
“But, what do I have to do to have as exciting a life as yours?”
When you are faced with choices that are the same in all other aspects, choose the path that offers the greatest adventure.