bagpiper, I play at gatherings as varied as weddings and resorts at
sunset.This winter a friend of
mine, a funeral director asked me to play at a graveside service for a homeless
man. No friend or family members could be found. My friend and a minister
had kindly offered to provide a simple service at a pauper's cemetery in rural
me to play.Yet I was not familiar
with the backwoods. Driving out to the service I got lost and harried, looking for signs. I
finally arrived an hour late. The minister had already left it.
backhoe and the gravediggers remained. They were quietly eating lunch. I
felt badly and apologized to them for my tardiness. Yet I was resolved to honor
this man in his death, thinking of the many forgotten people like him who had
no one to acknowledge their life at the end.
I got out my
bagpipes, walked to the side of the fresh grave and looked down. The
vault lid was already in place.
looked up at the sky, then held up my bagpipes and began to play.
After a few
minutes of playing I glanced over and noticed that the workers had
put down their lunches and were listening. Suddenly I felt the numinosity of
this moment, a connection will this man and all those who are alone in their
passing, so I played with all my heart.
later I started Amazing Grace, letting myself scan the countryside. That’s when
I saw the diggers were quietly weeping.Soon, so was I. When I finished, I quietly packed up my bagpipes and
started walking back to my car, feeling much more at peace with the world.
As I opened
my car door I heard one of the workers exclaim, "Sweet
Mother of Jesus, I never seen nothin' like that before... and I've
been putting in septic tanks for twenty-two years."
~ I adapted this
from an oft-repeated, apparently anonymous story, shared with me by three
subscribers to this blog.
Lesson: Tell a story with a poignant (or other emotion),
unexpected twist at the end and it may stick in others’ minds so much that they
can’t help sharing it with others.
Power of Surprise in Stories of Varying Lengths
stories with a twist at the end are told in a couple of sentences, sometimes
evoking a humorous twist, as when Jon Stewartsaid, “I celebrated Thanksgiving
in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we
had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”
the length we loved to be surprised and to share that experience.
Craft Your Repeatable Story to Live a Bigger Life in 2010
vignette or story could you tell, with an authentic and surprising twist at the
end to underpin your description of those you admire, the cause you back, or
your profession or product or service you sell?