About Margaret Bendet

What I most enjoy is telling my stories and helping other people tell theirs.

One of my pivotal moments came at fourteen, sitting on a drainage pipe with my friend Terry Shurig beside the I-40 access road that runs through North Tulsa. It was Saturday afternoon, we were bored, and our solution was to ride our bikes to this spot so we could chain smoke. While creating the habit it would later take me years to drop, I glared at the flat, dusty, unrelieved Oklahoma landscape and made myself a promise: I don’t care what else my life is, it’s got to be interesting.

And it has been. Over the years I’ve been a newspaper features editor, a Hindu nun, a suburban housewife, a Congressional press aide; I’ve hiked in the Himalayas and brought earthquake relief to villagers on the Deccan plateau; I’ve interviewed American rock stars, Indian holy men, Hawaiian kapunas, and I once committed myself to a state mental facility so I could write about what it was like to be a patient.

Interesting is no longer my life’s goal. I meditate daily. My dog and I go for walks, often on the same forest trails. I enjoy cooking for myself and friends. I like sitting around a table doing what’s called in Hawaii “talking story.” Storytelling is how I communicate, how I learn, and how I teach. What I especially love is helping people find the voice for their own stories. Actually, they have the voice; what I do is to encourage them to fill in the details (yes, we want to know), explain the context (that’s the foundation), and draw their own meaning from their life’s adventure. I find it fascinating and satisfying work; I am grateful to be able to do it.

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