The power of sharing your story

I interviewed a furniture designer recently for a lifestyle magazine. There was a moment when he began talking about living close to nature and going with it rather than fighting it in his work, and how that shapes you in a good way over time. And he talked about removing the unnecessary, and the clarity of finish and quality, and how important they were to him.

It was as if he was talking about my writing and I knew exactly what he meant. And I felt myself starting to buzz with a kind of excitement, a relate-ability.

As a journalist who gathers people’s stories for a living, these are the moments I look for in an interview. It’s how I know I’m on the right track.

I have been lucky enough to meet many passionate people who are on fire for a certain path, and this is always my favourite point in an interview – it’s usually when someone starts talking about their passion and where their inspiration comes from. I feel this energy suffusing them, and it starts to affect me in the same way. I start to get lit up too.

This is our energy starting to resonate at the same frequency; the boundaries that separate us are lowered just for that moment. I get a sense of what it is like to be them.

I studied transpersonal counselling some years back. In defining the counsellor-client relationship and what makes it work, resonance is cited as the ‘healing metaphor’ (Larson). The counsellor is so tuned in to the client that they start to operate at the same frequency; they feel what the client is feeling. It’s the same with good interviewing and journalism. It’s what gives you an understanding of the interior life of a person, what their world is like.

A few years ago, I worked on a project with the writers Eva Sallis and Sonja Dechian. Eva had set up a not-for-profit organisation called Australians Against Racism (AAR) in response to the Howard Government’s handling of refugees arriving by boat, and the scaremongering that was going on in Australia about the shores of our country being ‘attacked’ or at least over-run by these desperate people arriving by boat without visas. (Two governments later, and nothing much has changed!).

One of AAR’s projects was to run a competition in schools for children to interview an immigrant and tell their story. The idea was that if you listened to someone’s story about how they came to be in Australia (and let’s face it, Australia is a country of immigrants!), the empathy you would feel for them would not allow for racism, fear or hatred to continue… It was a project that we felt would bring down the barriers between people.

The best of these stories were gathered together in the books Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories and No Place Like Home (Wakefield Press).

Joseph Campbell has said: “At such moments, you realize that you and the other are, in fact, one. It’s a big realization. Survival is the second law of life. The first is that we are all one.”

In the Bliss Files, I want to share the stories of passionate people with you in the hope that you too can feel the same frequency through the writing, that the barriers between people disappear, and that you get lit up by a fire within also.

And, lucky me, I get to do the interviews and feel the fire on a regular basis – so indeed I write this blog as much for myself as I do for the reader!

After all, I need a regular dose of inspiration – don’t you?



2 thoughts on “The power of sharing your story

  1. Dick Beck

    Heather, you seem to have struck a nerve with many people with your post on WebMD “Why We Don’t Have a Cure for Cancer Yet”. Why do you think there is so much skepticism and cynicism regarding the mamouth money empire that cancer has built and supports? Can there be any question that a cure would bring this industry to its knees? Do you think that there is any way to convince people otherwise? I am just so thankful that generations ago when other deadly diseases were being battled, such as polio, that profit was not the primary objective, or every home might have an iron lung, and millions would be dying from that insidious disease. I have Stage IV prostate cancer and a story of survival which does not include the possibility of a cure.

    1. Heather Millar Post author

      Hi Dick – I think it’s the OTHER Heather Millar – also a writer and journalist, and author of My Left Breast – you should be addressing this to. She wrote that Web MD post you mentioned (I googled and found it). It’s just a coincidence that we both have the same name and are both writers. She’s in San Francisco I think – I’m in Australia. I’ve been aware of her for a while, as we do get mixed up once in a while. Cheers, Heather

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