Olivia Newport Once Upon a TimeEverybody has a story.

Childhood memories. A high school prank. College sweethearts. Broken bones. First jobs. First losses. Adventures. Disappointments. Risks. Failures. Recoveries.

In the moment, it is easier to feel as if this story, this season is the main story.

But the reality is, a lot of people have come before us.

Generations of our own families.

People in the towns we grew up in.

Pioneers in new places who smoothed the way for us.

Citizens and leaders, politicians and voters, industry giants and common workers.

None of us hatched into our circumstances without centuries, millennia, of history that created context and values for the decisions we make.

And I’m hooked on stories.

I remember once when I discovered that an 87-year-old woman in my church, mother of a friend, had learned to fly a plane in the early days of flight. Who would have known? I’m at a stage now when I’m listening to my own 87-year-old mother tell stories of when she was much longer. Why have I never heard these stories before?

Maybe I wasn’t listening. Maybe I wasn’t curious. Maybe I didn’t ask.

I think one of the reasons I love writing historical fiction is because the older I get the more I appreciate that everybody has a story—and they all matter, they’re all interesting.

• What about you? What’s one of the most interesting stories you discovered about somebody you know? How did it make you think differently about yourself?