Monday, November 15, 2010

National Day of Listening

So for once I seem to have heard about a National Day of Something before it actually happened. You may recall that earlier this year I was late to the party when it came to National Coffee Day and National Punctuation Day. I still haven’t recovered from those shocking realizations. And since I didn’t r.s.v.p., I probably won’t be invited next year, either! So you can imagine how delighted I am to have heard of the National Day of Listening in time to participate!

Yes, the National Day of Listening will be Friday, November 26th. That’s the day after Thanksgiving, so if you’re not out shopping, snapping up the bargains you’re seeking for your holiday celebrations, consider taking part. Husbands, typically handicapped in the realm of listening, need not apply.

This project falls under the umbrella of the StoryCorps, whose vignettes you may have heard on NPR. They are usually brief interviews conducted by one family member of another, or the two participants may be friends, neighbors or co-workers. I’ve heard many of them broadcast over the years, and am always affected by them. Some are poignant and touch my heart. Some amaze me with their insights and perspectives. I’ve never turned the radio off in the middle of one.

It may seem obvious, but I mostly end up wishing I could interview one of my parents, or grandparents. Maybe my lovely Aunt Sadie. Someone I’ve lost, and wish I knew more about. Someone who meant the world to me, whose secrets might bring me a clearer understanding of who they were, and what they wanted for me. Or what they would think of how I turned out, how wonderfully my kids turned out, and how fabulous my grandkids are.

I’d like to have that time machine, but I know it is not possible. What is possible, though, is taping interviews with my kids (we’ll be in D.C. with the newlyweds) to see what’s in their hearts, that they might not expose in our day-to-day interactions. And maybe we’ll disclose something of ourselves in the process. I envision all of us getting to know each other in a slightly new way. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? If they have questions for us, and I imagine they can come up with plenty—after all they are both former newspaper reporters—perhaps one day they won’t have the same regrets I have. Sure, they’ll have some regrets—who doesn’t? But at least they’ll be different, and possibly less substantial.

Interviews done for this project can be uploaded to the “Wall of Listening” at the StoryCorps website You can also upload them to Facebook, or post them on your own site to share with your loved ones.

So on November 26th, think about taking out a tape recorder, and asking some questions of someone important to you. And keep it nice—this post-Thanksgiving experience should be about positive things, and possibly difficult things, but not anything likely to cause hurt feelings, or a rift between people. I’m just saying… And then think about uploading that interview (or those interviews) to the Wall of Listening. You may touch hearts all over the world.

By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how great it is to be alive.

Dave Isay
Founder & President, StoryCorps


  1. This sounds great. Thanks for passing on the information.

  2. I hope the members of our national legislature will observe National Listening Day - every day.