These snapshots of ordinary people capture the essence of life, love, longing, and passion in poignant short stories. What a beautiful reminder that everyone has a story to tell and deserves to be heard.
1. This story is what true love is all about.
“I’ve been having nerve issues, and this past year it’s gotten so bad that it hurts too much for me to walk. It was completely unexpected. I’ve always been such an optimistic person, but now I’m fighting with depression. He’s doing everything he can to take my mind off of it. We’re not sure if I’m going to get better, but he’s planning a backpacking tour through Europe for when I do. And I told him that I didn’t think I could handle a visit to New York right now, but he told me that he’d push me around the whole city. And he has. And whenever I feel particularly down, he tells me that he’s not going anywhere, and how happy he is that he married me. Not long ago I had a particularly rough period, and when I was at one of my lowest moments, he asked if we could renew our vows.”
2. This story is a reminder to genuinely appreciate your spouse.
“My wife is my anchor. I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was older. I was so focused on my own course, I didn’t realize that this place of solace was developing around me. And I had very little to do with it.”
3. This story shows the power of love to make us feel alive, no matter how old we are.
“I don’t want to say I was depressed, but my life has been pretty humdrum for the past eighteen years. Every day I’d wake up, eat breakfast, go to church, go back home—always the same thing. But now I’ve met this woman and suddenly I feel young again. I can’t concentrate. All I want to do is be with her. I used to eat whenever I wanted, but now I can get by on just a banana. I’m even trying to improve myself. I’m doing pushups in the morning. Can you believe that? Four herniated discs in my back, and I’m doing pushups every morning.”
4. This story proves how important positive role models are for our youth.
“I want to be a positive male influence in their lives. We’re big on building foundations. I tell them: ‘There’s not going to be a switch that flips once you become an adult, and suddenly you start acting right. Every decision you make matters. Because once you’re older, you’re going to revert back to the same behavior you have right now. If you have a foundation of rudeness, dishonesty, and not caring, that’s what you’ll fall back on when you’re faced with a challenge. So we need to build a foundation of character.”
5. This story recalls a father’s tears when his son made a wise decision.
“I see myself in my son. I know what it’s like to be in that teenage stage when you feel the need to prove yourself. One day when I was about his age, I was hanging out with some friends after school, and they wanted to go to the mall, but I had to go back to school and work on a project. A few hours later, they all ended up getting arrested for shoplifting. When I got home, my father was crying. He’d gotten a call from one of the boy’s fathers, who told him everything that happened. He told my dad: ‘Barak didn’t get arrested because he went to school.’ My dad dropped to his knees and started hugging me, and telling me that I’d made the smart decision, and that night he took me out to dinner. Today, every one of those friends is either dead or locked up.”
6. This story shows how the dedication of teachers in inner city schools changes students’ lives.
“My students are going to need education to advocate for themselves. They need to understand the law, so they know if it’s being applied to them fairly. They need to understand the services they deserve, so they know if they’re receiving them. They even need to be educated about simple things like fresh fruit. There isn’t any fresh fruit in the stores around here. And they think that’s normal. They need to know that’s not normal, and that they deserve fresh fruit.”
7. This story demonstrates the sacrifice of a parent for her children.
“After I finish my shift at the bakery, I start my shift at Starbucks. I work 95 hours per week at three different jobs. One of my sons graduated from Yale, and I have two more children in college. And when they finish, I want to go to college too. I want to be a Big Boss. I’m a boss at the bakery right now, but just a little boss. I want to be a Big Boss.”
8. This story is a wonderful example of the determination of the human spirit.
“I started working in the fields when I was five. After that, I worked construction for thirty years. Eight years ago, I was between jobs and I wanted to do something useful, so I started going to school. It took me 8 years to get through middle school, because I could only go to classes when work was slow, but I finished with a 9.3 out of 10. Now I’m moving on to high school. The toughest part is Algebra.”
(Mexico City, Mexico)
9. This story is a heart-felt reminder to women and mothers to pursue their dreams.
“There is a stigma in this country around women with jobs. So I want to start an organization that provides girls in the Congo with examples of women around the world who have balanced family and career. Most men in this country think it’s only about money. They think: ‘If I make enough money for us to live, then my wife should take care of the children.’ The common belief is that a woman who works is hurting her children. People don’t realize that children also gain from the knowledge and experiences of their mother.”
(Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo)