WE EACH HOLD STORIES, some shared, some not. Our experiences, our connections, our individuality all combine to create our life stories.
Recently I wondered at the story of a biker pedaling away from a mini strip mall in Faribault, then turning onto Minnesota State Highway 21/Lyndale Avenue around 7:30 pm on July 2. We had just exited Interstate 35 onto this busy 4-lane when I noticed the bicyclist.
I grabbed my camera to document the scene through the windshield on the passenger side of our van. It wasn’t like we could stop so I could ask questions.
Thus I am left only with clues, including the BORN 2 RIDE mini novelty Minnesota “license plate.” I surmise this biker hails from Minnesota and is a serious cyclist.
The mounded pack and tote on the bike trailer appear to corral a tent and belongings. This seems more a distance journey, perhaps with a cause, rather than a recreational ride.
The weathered signage, if only I could see all of the letters, would help me determine what message the biker wants passersby to see.
A tattered American flag points to patriotism and someone who could be a veteran. Maybe. Maybe not.
There are clues, but not a full story. In general, unless we directly hear individual stories, we are left to guess, to speculate and to possibly even get it wrong. How quick we can be in life to assess, to judge, to think we understand people without intently listening to their stories. Sharing of stories comes only with trust, at least for me. Not everyone can be trusted to keep our stories, to hold our truths, to respond with love, compassion and care.
I am a big advocate of listening, of not interjecting one’s own experiences into conversations in a way that focuses back on us. Just be there. Listen. And react with kindness.
Yes, my thoughts have wandered from that biker I photographed along a busy Faribault highway on July 2. But, like a writing prompt, that scene allowed me to craft a message. A message that we all need to pause, to consider the untold stories, to hear those stories if shared and to listen, really listen.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling