This page almost didn’t exist. Years ago, when I was asked to start this column by Nathan, I wasn’t sure I had the voice to tell my stories. I turned him down at least once. But he persisted. So I took the chance. I tried my hand, and then in the next issue, I tried again, and again, each time finding more of my voice and becoming more myself. I didn’t realize just how much of an impact this column would have on my life.
You’ve read along as I’ve shared stories of influential trips, time spent with the most important of people in my life, my love of hunting, losing family members, rekindling old friendships, and so many more memories that have helped shape who I am as a person.
Not many people are given the platform to share their most learned lessons of life, but I’ve been fortunate to have gotten to do that here, and I have heard from so many of you along the way of how meaningful those stories have been for you. I cannot count on one hand the number of phone calls, texts, and emails I’ve gotten as you’ve thanked me for reminding you of something you did as a kid or encouraged you to slow down and take in the moment. To be present. To be passionate. To be respectful. To be grateful for life’s gifts and learn from life’s challenges.
It has meant everything to me to hear from so many of you. All througout this time, as I shared my knowledge—you may call it wisdom, I just call it the ponderings of a small-town country lawyer—I realize a new insight in and of itself: the value of sharing your story.
We do not operate in a vacuum. Hearing someone’s story—their life and adventures, their trials and tribulations, their wins and losses—gives meaning to life. It is a reminder that life is ultimately a series of ups and downs for all of us.
Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes to the enemy, other times it will head out of bounds and you will have no control over that. But sharing your experience with others, no matter what direction they take, lets others know they aren’t alone—and reminds you that you aren’t either.
Whether you feel blessed and fortunate or are struggling with what life has handed you, there is value in your story. You simply must choose to believe that. And if you are on the receiving end of those stories, you have a choice of how you handle those.
Will you listen and learn from others’ experiences, or will you turn away from your fellow man? Will you share your experiences in the hope that they will help others, or will you bottle them up and leave a gap in your own story? Will you take the chance to find your voice?
I took the chance.
I chose to listen. I chose to share.
As I write this and prepare for my impending retirement at the end of the year, let me just re-emphasize how much it has meant to share my journey with you. The power of storytelling is real. Be brave and connect. We will all be better for it.
This is Bruce Fox, signing off.