On Storytelling

Peculiar Wallpaper by Noemí Jiménez (CC BY-SA)

Peculiar Wallpaper by Noemí Jiménez (CC BY-SA)

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.
―Muriel Rukeyser
We live in stories [like fish] in water, breathing them in and out, buoyed [and sustained, but rarely conscious of them. They] nurture and guide us. . . make it possible for us to be human.
―Daniel Taylor
Everything begins with a story.
―Joseph Campbell

 
 

Clear mind by Eddie van W. (CC BY-NC-SA)

Clear mind by Eddie van W. (CC BY-NC-SA)

Humans are hard-wired to make sense of our experience by telling stories. This happened, then this, then that

Your cinematic mind plays scenes whose contents shape your life. You really do live the stories you tell yourself.

You might not read fairytales, but narratives—as simple as I’m hungry or as complex as E=mc²—still permeate your life.

Stories are everywhere.

 

 

Bird Songs at Eventide #2 by Yang Du (CC BY NC-SA)

Bird Songs at Eventide #2 by Yang Du (CC BY NC-SA)

Beyond movies, novels, and urban legends, there are commercials, textbooks, awards, news, and legislation.

Gimme Hope Obama by Willem J. Poolen (CC BY-NC)

Gimme Hope Obama by Willem J. Poolen (CC BY-NC)

Corporate branding, political campaigns, religious doctrines, and military recruiting material are well-crafted stories with powerful engines.

Tweets, chats, profiles, gossip, and jokes manifest stories. So do photos, conversations, and memories. Clothing, hairstyles, and gestures speak volumes.

Everything you know is a story. Everything you think, hope, and fear is a story. Your self-image is a story.

Your life is a story.

 

 

[365] 096 by Corie Howell (CC BY-NC-ND)

[365] 096 by Corie Howell (CC BY-NC-ND)

Family, friends, teachers, neighbors, celebrities, heroes, politicians, religious leaders, and profit-driven strangers begin molding you during childhood.

Some stories they tell on purpose: wash your handsdon’t touch the stovesay please and thank youdon’t talk to strangers.

Some stories they tell by accident: smoke, drink, or eat to relieve stressbe like other childrendo as I say, not as I do.

 

 

Pollution by Tomas Brechler (CC BY-NC-ND)

Pollution by Tomas Brechler (CC BY-NC-ND)

Accounts grow familiar. We reflect and repeat what we learn from others, who reflect and repeat what others taught them. We tend to limit our understanding to the reality we grew up with, including our place in it.

As fewer sources provide more of our media, goods, and services, stories shrink in number and variety. Those that remain become overexposed.

Humans need diverse, nutritious stories like we need clean water and air. The fresher and more abundant the better. Do you test your tales for toxins? Inspect sources, confirm contents? When’s the last time you checked your filters? Minimize middlemen and your options multiply.

The world is brimming with untold choices.

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