The following audiobook may be disturbing to the ruling elite. It contains strong language, and bloody assaults on the mores of the 1950s, religion, and people who think we need to “Make America Great Again.” Sharing Our Stories is intended for mature, “center left” audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
Welcome to Rick Gilbert’s Raucous American Carnival of CEOs, iron workers, street vendors, musicians, sailors, sex workers, political activists, doctors, therapists, ministers, and cops as they tell you the stories of their lives – successes, failures, turning points, mentors, legacies, and what they learned along the way – in their own words.
This is not fiction. This is not pretend. This is real life.
Rick has interviewed 65 people for this book. He also shares his own story of being an irreverent, smart-ass in the slow reading group who was constantly warned “Mister, this is going on your permanent record.”
If you are a Boomer who has survived the last 60 years of the American story, this book is for you. If you think “TikTok” is the noise clocks make, this audiobook is for you. If you know the names Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but think Taylor Swift must be a track star, this audiobook is for you. If you think the apps on your computer live up in the sky, or as they say, “in the cloud” this book is definitely for you.
On the other hand, if you are a younger Gen X, Y, Z, or whatever, who struggles with massive college debt, two new babies at home, and a job you hate, this book is for you. Insight. Humor. A deeper understanding of the forces that shaped your parents and grandparents. Imagine their surprise and admiration at the next family dinner as you spout off about the Pentagon Papers, Joan Baez, LSD, and Woody Herman. Stunning! New respect!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Does my life even matter?
Ch. 1: The Early Years
It is OK to tell children there is no God… but don’t say there is no Santa Claus!
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Ch. 2: Family of Origin
“My grandfather brought peace to my heart.”
Navajo Tribe, AZ
Ch. 3: Parenthood
An out-of-control, house-destroying teenager found that his father’s unconditional love helped him rebuild his life.
Ch. 4: Music
Ten musicians on the love and struggles of life on the road and living an improv lifestyle.
Ch. 5: Explorations in Medicine
Going to medical school to prove to your first-grade teacher that you are smart, is not a good reason to devote your life to medicine.
Ch. 6: Major Screwups
The high-level executive female looked timid as she spoke to the class. To help her feel what strong gestures are like, I boldly grabbed her arm to move it away from her body. When I touched her arm, I was horrified to realize it was plastic… a prosthetic. She was a pilot and had lost it to a spinning prop.
Ch. 7: Fear
The Oakland cop was between a drug dealer and a drug buyer. They had guns pointed at each other. He thought, “If this gets ugly, who do I shoot first.”
Ch. 8: Humor
The cop said, “Nobody steals Priuses.”
Ch. 9: Sex
Katy (my daughter, age 17): “So, dad, how old were you when you first had sex?”
Me: “Sorry to say I was late… age 19.”
Katy: “Great! I’m two years ahead of you.”
Ch. 10: Religion
“My grandparents believed in region out of superstition. My parents believed out of fear. This nonsense ends with me.”
Randy Udavcak, Atheist
Ch. 11: Politics
“I’ve labored long and hard for bread,
For honor and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tread,
You fine-haired sons o’ bitches.”
Black Bart, Stagecoach robber, 1885
“The trusting relationship between those who govern and those who elect has been the hallmark of our compact for the past 25 years.”
Congresswoman, 18th CA District
Ch. 12: Turning Points
Daniel Ellsberg, then working for the Rand Corporation, attended an anti-Vietnam war rally. After hearing a young war protestor who was going to jail rather than to the Army, Ellsberg went into a men’s bathroom, leaned against the wall, sank to the floor and bawled his eyes out for an hour. When he came out, he was anti-war. The Pentagon Papers hit the New York Times and the Washington Post a short time later.
Ch. 13: Risk Taking
“To risk is to lose your footing momentarily,
to not risk is to lose your self.”
Ch. 14: Mentors
“We are all just links in a chain.”
Rick’s Mentors at SF State:
“I find your dissertation in miniature a beautiful literate piece. It is vital and humane, like its author. So, it goes without saying – both in person and in print, I love you very much little brother.”
Prof Robert Drener
“What you may not have known, Rick, is that I needed you as much as you needed me.”
Prof. Robert Suczek
Ch. 15: Communication
“My physicist brother says, ‘Give me a lever and a place to stand and I’ll move the world.’ I say to him, ‘I’ll do something even tougher. Give me 1,000 words and I’ll change an attitude.'”
Kristen Clark, Hewlett Packard
Ch. 16: Kindness and Empathy
The crippled B-17 was limping back to its base in England on 40% power. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt 109 came screaming out of the clouds. The B-17 pilot, 20-year-old Charles Brown, said his prayers. The German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, declined to shoot down the bomber. Instead, he escorted the B-17 out of German air space, then saluted Brown and tipped his wings. Fifty years later, the two pilots met at a public form. A reporter asked Stigler, “How does it feel to meet Charles Brown for the first time?” The 109 pilot looked at Brown and simply said, “I love you Charlie.”
Ch. 17: Building Community
“I’d rather go to hell with my friends than heaven alone.”
“What? You too? I thought I was the only one.
From the Berkeley High School class of 1957:
“Each of us is different in so many ways. It seems like our differences are bringing us closer together.”
“I’m not so unusual after all.”
“It’s as if I’ve followed Alice down the rabbit hole to get to know the people I didn’t know in high school and come back out having known them all my life.”
Ch. 18: Inspiration
At age 24, jazz drummer, Jeff Hamilton, was hired by Woody Herman. Herman explained that in a big band, the drummer holds it all together. Later, at Carnegie Hall, with Hamilton as the band’s drummer for the first time, moments before the curtain went up, Woody Herman came over, placed his hand on the drummer’s shoulder, and said, “It’s your band now, Jeff.”
Ch. 19: Legacy
Your legacy will be not only the stories you tell, but also the stories you get others to tell. This will be gratifying to you, I guarantee, and will mean the world to the families of those you interview.
Ch. 20: Walking Each Other Home
It has been a joy to write and narrate this book. In a way, I can see you, my listener, as a partner in this process.
Perhaps you are sitting across the table from me as a little kid, as an adult, as an elderly person. We are sharing the stories of our lives. Can anything be more joyful, respectful, and growthful?
Let ‘er Rip
Sharing Our Stories is about the power of story to get us through the strange times we live in. It is also about why we need to help others tell their stories. Pick up your iPhone, find a quiet space, sit down with grandma, and start listening. A whole new world will open up. In a word: meaning.
Ask your doctor if Sharing Our Stories is right for you.
Do not listen to this audiobook if sex, religion, politics or strong mature language, causes you to have suicidal thoughts. Do not listen to this program if stories about people getting their legs chopped off, being stabbed by a psychotic in-patient, or crashing their jet fighter into the sea in the middle of the night cause your head to explode. Do not operate heavy equipment after listening to Sharing Our Stories. Side effects may include, hallucinations, (like religion), and / or delusional thinking (like trickle-down economics is good for the middle class).
If you find that telling your stories or listening to the stories of your aging grandmother works better for you than Prozac or Zoloft, then run, don’t walk to the link on my page and get this book. Do not ask your doctor if that is OK.
Just fucking do it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frederick Gilbert, PhD
Provocative storyteller. Humanistic psychology PhD. Long-time atheist. Jazz enthusiast. Far-left politics. Rick is the founder of PowerSpeaking, Inc., a leading Silicon Valley consulting firm. He is also the developer of PowerSpeaking, HighTechSpeaking, and Speaking Up; Surviving Executive Presentations.
After a career in psychology, Rick went into industry and managed departments at Hewlett Packard and Amdahl. He started his own company in 1985. Retired in 2014. Grew up in Berkeley in the 50s and 60s, graduated from SF State and the Saybrook Institute. He is the author of five books, and hundreds of articles.