The Story that Keeps You Stuck

Last week while in Chicago I met a homeless man as I was waiting for my cab to arrive to take me to the airport. Through the blistering cold and the falling snow the homeless man said, “Do you have a hat?”

Pointing to the Walgreen’s across the street I asked him if he would like to go to go purchase a hat. (I was going to offer him some money to go get a hat.)

He said, “Wait a minute; let me tell you my story.”

“I’m almost 40 years old and I live in this alley,” he said.

I said, “I don’t want to hear your story but I do I want to help you get a hat.” Opportunity was within reach but he preferred to tell me his story.

He invited me into the alley to see his bag of belongings, which of course I declined. 😀

I said, “I see so much more for you. Have you ever considered going inside this hotel and applying for a job?”

“No one would hire me with my background, I was arrested for attempted murder…” he went on as he assured me he wasn’t guilty and I was in no danger of being harmed by him.

After some bantering back and forth, I pulled out $10.00 and offered to him so that he could go across the street and purchase a hat.

Right about that time, my cab arrived and the homeless man said, “I’m going to do something for you.” He emphasized the word “something.”

He grabbed my bag and put it in the trunk as a gesture of gratitude. I thought I saw a glimmer of pride in his face as he put out his hand to shake mine.

The thought that came to was this: What is the story that keeps you from applying for the job, of living a better life or asking for help?

How often do we cling to our story when we are able to do more? The words keep ringing in my ear, “Wait until you hear my story.” How many times have I been attached to my story instead of taking action? How many times was help available but I would rather spend time talking about my story?





2 Responses to The Story that Keeps You Stuck

  1. sharon says:

    Marlene, I really got a lot out of your “story.” today. Very timely, too, as I write out my goals for the year. I’m afraid I cling to my same old story too often. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Hi Marlene,

    You are so right! I think that we hold on to our stories because we believe that they define us and give meaning or explanation for where we are and what we’ve done with our lives. If we want to change where we are, we need to start telling new stories about ourselves. The question is, when will you or I be willing to leave behind the past and choose to move into a different looking future? I think now would be a good time.


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