It happens every time.
I’m driving my kids to school before heading to work, listening to NPR, and coming back from break, I hear that nice acoustic guitar, and I know what’s coming. “Now it’s time for StoryCorps…” StoryCorps is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, sharing and preserving the stories of ordinary Americans. It seems they have a way with a story, because almost every time these 2-minute segments are aired on NPR, they make my cry. Yeah, I’m a tough guy.
A while back they aired a story on a prison inmate named Daniel Ross fighting forest fires in Wyoming. He first talked about how scary it was to confront these huge blazes, but then the story took a different turn. The prisoners-temporarily-turned-firefighters received a very warm thank you from the townspeople, and their well wishes included a meal, and more. Take a listen here.
As the townspeople thanked the firefighters, Daniel said “I was overwhelmed to see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. It was so moving that I had to get up and go compose myself. That was my proudest moment, hands down.” He found a sense of significance and a feeling of contribution by helping the town. Two of his six human needs were fulfilled right there. I started breaking up a bit.
My older daughter said, “Dad, are you crying?” Funny, because they can’t see my eyes; they’re in the back seat. And I was wearing sunglasses. How did she know? “No, I’m not,” I said.
My kids always want to understand the stories they are hearing, so I tried to explain it. This is such a HUGE life lesson, and I so hope it registers with them. With a cracking voice, I basically told them “What that man felt after helping fight that fire and save that town … that is a feeling he never could have bought.” I reiterated that there was nothing he could ever buy that would make him feel that fulfilled. It made me think of Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver. Giving is so much more powerful than receiving.
Link to the story on NPR’s site: