Once Upon A Time – Talkin’ Trash, New Year 2018

One of the benefits of getting older (aside from the abundance of reading glasses in a seemingly endless variety of styles and colours…not!) is that if one pays enough attention along the way, one just might learn something.  And one thing I’ve learned while studiously avoiding eye contact with the reading glass displays that seem to inhabit every single checkout line in the city…is that stories are important.

Stories are how we express ourselves, how we learn, how we relate to others, how we empathize and share…all bundled up in a package that, at a minimum, hopefully entertains, but at its best inspires and motivates.  And the beauty of stories is that even tales of ordinary people trying to do mostly ordinary (though sometimes amazing) things under mostly ordinary (though sometimes extraordinary) circumstances can make the world a better place.

Like a stand-up comedian telling of his everyday ups-and-downs in a way that can be simultaneously funny and poignant… sometimes without a single word being uttered…

…or a grandparent’s tale with details so vivid and unimaginable…but, sadly, not too far-fetched that they couldn’t happen (again)…

…or the story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls (sorry, couldn’t resist)…

…or UHN’s leaders sharing their medical errors so that others can learn from, and hopefully avoid, the same mistakes…

…or a genetically modified racoon who, along with a gang of spacefaring heroes, protects the galaxy against a whole whack of intergalactic shenanigans (sure, neither people, nor, actions, nor circumstances are ordinary here…but sometimes stories just need to be fun)…

…or the pictures, each one worth at least a thousand words, of those living on the front lines of climate change’s impacts.

And another thing I’ve learned is that each of us is the author our own story…a story that others are listening to.  Sure, we may not be able to control the supporting actors (I wish), and there are going to be plot twists that would be hard for anyone to anticipate…but the thoughts, dreams and, to some extent, actions of our main character are all part of the script we have a hand in writing.  And not every story needs to be an epic adventure…sometimes the real story is the one that’s made up of all of our smaller stories put together.

Which means in our story, the UHN hero can turn off the lights…because the bigger story is that energy efficiency is health care

…and in our story, the UHN hero brings their own mug, and recycles and makes a conscious effort not to create so much garbage… because the bigger story is that reducing pollution is healthcare.

So if you’re going to make one, just one resolution this year, make it to listen, really listen, to more stories.  And if you’re going to make a second resolution?  Then make it to start thinking about the story you want to write.

Happy New Year, UHN…Happy New Year.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

– Maya Angelou

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