The Sticker

Last March, I had just finished a refreshing swim and beach walk with my husband along a stretch of the Atlantic which parallels Patrick Air Force Base. The beach is between Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach (fans of the famed “I Dream of Jeannie” television show may remember Major Tony Nelson lived there) on Florida’s Space Coast. Access to their beach is open to the public, although access to the base is not.

We packed up our chairs and towels and beach bags and walked over the wooden dune crossover to our car. Actually, I veered right to use the shower pole where visitors rinse their feet or suits to free themselves of the sand that is somehow magnetically drawn to stick on you no matter how many wipes of a towel you try. You look down and it’s back.

As I had one hand on the pole and one hand trying to get that sand off, I saw a decal someone had stuck on the pole. It read “Live a Great Story.”

It looked a little worn, and I wondered how long it had been there. Was I the 81st person to read these words or was I the 900th person cleansing my feet when suddenly confronted with the idea of living a great story? It was a memorable moment.

I stepped away and went over to my bag to get my phone to take the photo. I then returned to wash the fresh sand off.

“What is a great story, anyway?” I thought. Even though I understood what it meant, initially my mind went all epic-scale and thought of big stories I’ve loved reading. They include bravery and helping others and staying true to yourself. They are often on a journey. Their life stories are full.

I thought of the mythical ones, with heroes and swords and valor like Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. And I thought of the classic stories we read in school where the characters are strong and follow amazing arcs like Scout and her coming-of-age story and her dad Atticus Finch fighting racial injustice in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

But this isn’t about fiction. It’s about real people and a randomly-placed idea prompting them to look inward and reflect on whether their life is a great story. And if it isn’t, what could change that?

I loved the heart of the message, but at that time, I was slowly losing my mother’s memories and her life to dementia, and she was my focus. But I hung onto the photo and ran into it a couple of months ago in my phone’s gallery. I’m not sure why, but I searched online for the words “Live a Great Story” and in a nanosecond, an entire movement lay before me. I had no idea.

Apparently, the idea was born in 2012 when a man named Zach Horvath was traveling in Europe and was attracted to the belief that the people whom he was befriending were each living out their own unique story. It was a lasting feeling for him. The actual words came to him as he journaled during his travels. When he returned home, he was inspired to spray paint “Live a Great Story” on a wall in Austin, Texas. People took photos, and it went viral on social media.

Soon, he used his words on stickers and t-shirts. Followers then took those stickers and held them in front of places they were visiting around the world. As he said in an interview many years later, they began “to share their story through the sticker.” They held it up in front of travel photos, or while they were scuba diving or walking in a marathon to raise money for cancer. At some point, Horvath did TED talks. A movement was born. Hundreds of thousands of great stories were intersecting every day influencing others to ponder its meaning.

Well, it embarrassed me being out of the loop for so long. I pride myself on staying current on the news. In terms of social media, I’m only on Facebook and Twitter, and learned that Instagram really has been the primary platform people used to share their photos. And age may be an issue too. I’m in that age group who watched new episodes of “All In The Family” and a postage stamp cost .08 cents. I was in a life circle floating separately from the Live a Great Story one.

Regardless, ten years later, on a shower pole next to a military installation in Florida, the message reached me. I think that’s kind of cool that it finally found me. My imagination jumped to ideas about who put it there. Was the person an Air Force recruit visiting the beach before he or she flew off to help the world? Or was it a young Spring Breaker, moving south from beach to beach, wanting to make waves in other ways? Of course, it doesn’t matter, the message hit.

Horvath’s website describes it this way:

“What does it mean to LIVE A GREAT STORY? Answering this is a personal question. For some, it’s adventure and travel. For others, making a positive community impact.

It could be starting a business, being a teacher, or just trying to enjoy the moment. LIVE A GREAT STORY exists to inspire you to think about how to make your story great.”

And so, I’m using this to start the new year. It’s the perfect time to be inspired. It is NOT about what I can offer the world, it’s about what I can offer myself and explore where it takes me.

I am in the second half of my life, but that is irrelevant. Look no further than Betty White, who was in that hilarious Super Bowl Snickers commercial at age 88. I can indeed still make a resolution to try something new, something fun, something engaging this year. Experiment. Maybe the very act of trying new experiences adds to a person’s great story. The beauty is that the definition of “great” is different for every everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a thousand blessings in my life for which I am grateful, but I could fill my life more in some interesting ways. I’m going to try it this year. I’ll share what I discovered in 2024.

#liveagreatstory

12 comments

  1. I’ve been so far out of the loop for a while now I’m not sure I can even find the road back to the loop. That said, I love this message. When I read “Live a Great Story,” I took it to mean doing something that makes one’s life memorable. The trick is to find those things that make us passionate. Of course, everyone’s story will be different, but isn’t that what makes life the most incredible reality show ever?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂 Good one Pete about finding the road TO the loop! I see what you mean about equating great with “epic” or memorable. I also take it to mean finding that extra something or some things that bring a meaningful happiness on a smaller, personal level. Haha, yes, everyone will bring something different to the table of life, that’s for sure, but we can watch and learn!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m floating in your life circle, Melanie, and not apologizing for it either–ha! I do like how one image, a sticker at the beach, was the “pebble” that rippled into your reflections far and wide. You certainly have a writer’s mindset.

    And I definitely look forward to all the stories you’ll tell this year and #liveagreatstory into 2024.

    P.S. I’m too “am in that age group who watched new episodes of ‘All In The Family’ and a postage stamp cost .08 cents.” Actually, probably 5 cents! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, there probably is a 3 cent difference in our ages Marian, but I’m not too far behind. 🙂 I agree that it’s interesting that a single, random sticker can trigger a whole story and a motivating attitude. For me, it just fits firmly into my serendipitous nature. I love things like that. Creative minds of all types see things that others pass by. I embrace that. We’ll see how much of a “great” story I can embrace in a year. 🙂 Thanks Marian!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this sticker! More importantly I love your story (interpretation ) of it. I am also in my third act of life’s journey and feel my story now is all about recent changes-moving, taking care of a challenging family member, etc. Going forward I want my story to be all about finding inner peace. God bless those that go out at my age and run a marathon or jump out of a plane! It’s just not me. We truly do all have different stories and like the others I am looking forward to reading how yours is unfolding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Pam for allowing us a peek inside your great story goals. I love and admire your answer. “Great” is just a word to describe that thing or things that bring a deep sense of joy and contentment to our lives; you know it when you feel it. I know that I’m hovering around something particularly fulfilling, but it’s more of a journey for me; which I’m okay with!

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  4. Funny, I had a conversation this week about stories and “story slams” like The Moth holds. Maybe you could “experiment” and “explore”on stage as well as on the page. I can picture it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll admit, it sounds fun Liz. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I took a look online and they list Tampa as a spot (which we’ve been to a gazillion times) so who knows? I’m pretty sure your area has one. Just saying. 😊

      Like

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