By: Karl Scherrer
I’ve always been a storyteller, or so I’ve been told. Call it being a storyteller. Call it whatever you’d like. Whatever the label, whenever I describe something to someone, which may or may not be while I’m actually telling a story, it’s as if I have this subconscious devotion to colorfully illustrate the minutest details.
Wait … If you don’t mind. Please allow me to take a step back here. On second thought, I am fairly certain that my devotion to the illustration of the most excruciating and seemingly unimportant detail is entirely subconscious. Often I’m not aware until someone says something like, “Karl, will you get to the point already,” but as a storyteller that’s only in a worst-case scenario. On the flip side of that, in the more positive and uplifting situations, in which I’m consuming vast blocks of time constructing in my mind and then presenting copious details (a euphemism for digressing) to my audience, which I consider to be the foundation of a story.
I’m talking about details because, of course, a good story hinges on such minute but colorful qualities. It’s all part of this narrative crescendo. Wait a second. Where was I? Why am I going into such detail now … why? So I ask myself and myself quickly responds with, “Because you can’t help it, numb-skull. What do you think you’ve been writing about here?” Despite all of that, someone might say something along the lines of, “Karl, you really are a great storyteller.” In the most encouraging of these pleasant scenarios, the person or people who happen to be my audience at the time might choose to underscore such a comment with something like, “Have you ever thought about writing a book?”
As I’ve grown older, and subsequently have more stories to tell, I have been presented more frequently with this peculiar yet encouraging question about writing a book. The thing is, and this has become my typical response to the question, “Yes … Yes, in fact. Thank you. I do. From time to time I do think about writing a book.”
Here’s the deal: so far I’ve lived a very colorful life. I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit and along the way I’ve had some unique experiences, such that—and especially for those who have lived more conventional (or dare I say, more responsible) lives—I’m guessing there’s at least a small contingent of folks out there who may be in awe of some of my experiences and thus perhaps enjoy living vicariously by way of the stories I tell. Perhaps … or maybe they simply have a different appreciation for a story rooted in some bizarre experience they’d never imagined having (or wanted to have). In the latter case, someone’s enjoyment of one or many of my stories might not be vicarious at all. Approaching the question from yet another perspective, however, might lead one to believe perhaps it’s the story itself, nothing deeper, and one’s opinion may have little or nothing to do with whichever of my experiences inspired the story but rather simply the way I tell it.
Whichever the case, setting aside the true reason for someone’s positive response to one of my epic tales, it’s fascinating from a psychological perspective when I consider the notion that for many years (and still quite frequently) I didn’t contemplate the life I was living. That is to say, I didn’t think I was accomplishing very much. Sure, I was enjoying myself as I traveled (or wandered) and met countless interesting people.
Speaking of which, if you read only a few of my stories, you’ll soon learn that I genuinely love meeting and, most importantly, talking to new people and learning about their own life experiences. The person could be a cab driver or the sales clerk behind the counter of a convenience store or a famous professor at one of those elite universities in the Northeast. It doesn’t matter. Whoever it may be, when this person and I cross paths, and if I have the slightest window of opportunity to chat it up with them, then I am happy to do so.
Anyway, back to my point. You will find this—what I am doing right now—occurs frequently throughout my stories. Though I ask you not to allow yourself to feel at all pressured by me to read more of my writing simply because I’ve now mentioned it a couple of times in passing—honestly. Okay, now I am hopelessly digressing. Yes, it’s true, and with frequency. Actually, though, I believe my digression habit tends to enhance my stories, so long as I manage to eventually find my way back to my original point.
To that end, let’s get back on point. Now, please don’t interpret the brief aforementioned analysis of my own life as sad or pitiful in any way. For a while I simply never thought I was accomplishing much or contributing at all to society. Sure, I had spent a number of years serving my country in the Army, but beyond that it didn’t seem like I had actually accomplished much. Yet, as I mentioned, according to responses I’ve consistently received from numerous people who have heard a few (or sometimes more … many more) of my stories, and contrary to my own belief, I have in fact been living a somewhat remarkable life. Further, many of these people are those whom I admire on many levels not only for their individual accomplishments but, and perhaps more importantly, for their devotion. Their seemingly singular focus on accomplishing some thing or a set of things in their life. The encouraging words bestowed upon me by these people have brought me to the point where I am now: to begin writing and sharing with a broader audience these tales of adventure and buffoonery and, on occasion, great sadness.
I tell these stories with utmost humility. For many years I was determined to become a better writer before I attempted this task. The trouble is, we never know how much time we have. Furthermore, if we’re doing what most humans do, we’re always getting better at the stuff we do. So, generally speaking, we continue to get better at whatever it is we do for as long as we continue to do it. If we develop our expectations based upon, or construct our plans around, what it is we think we might hope or aspire to be, then we’re never going to accomplish anything because we never will be in the present what we strive to become in the future.
That realization has drawn me not only to philosophy in general but to eastern philosophy in particular. Humility … yes the humility with which I tell my stories … this is what I’m driving at now. I do not fancy myself as a particularly gifted writer. Honestly I find “scribbler” more appropriate than “writer” at this juncture.
Funny … this “juncture” … doesn’t that remind you of those skits Dana Carvey used to do on Saturday Night Live where he was imitating George H. W. Bush? Since watching those skits I’ve always thought the word “juncture” sounded humorous. Seriously though, I know this digressive style of writing is not the norm, but for me it has evolved naturally as a metaphor for the way I have lived my life, so I feel telling the stories in a style similar to the way in which I have lived my life is fitting.
Oh yes, two more things before I wrap this up and get to work on creating some good content. First, as this blog’s tagline reads, although loosely based on my life experiences, these stories are ultimately works of fiction. Not unlike the disclaimer presented by the writers and producers of the television program “Law and Order,” the work that follows here is “ripped from the headlines” of my crazy and, until recently, nomadic life. All similarities to real people or actual events herein are purely coincidental. Second, this blog is first devoted to presenting a growing collection stories in written form. Enjoy.
© Karl F. Scherrer and www.ATypicalKarlStory.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karl F. Scherrer and www.ATypicalKarlStory.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.