From the moment we are conceived, we are part of a story. And once we are born, we begin to tell our own stories. New plotlines are added every day; new characters and plot twists pop up like dandelions in new spring grass. These stories shape our personalities and color our interactions with the world around us; the stories we tell ourselves affect every aspect of who we are and who we will become.
Stories shape, and sometimes even become, our worldview. But when that worldview is challenged, how do you respond? Such challenges are often met with outrage, sometimes even hostility. People throughout history have paid the price for their inability to rewrite their own sagas, sometimes losing sanity and life. As ink jockeys, we know that all writing is rewriting, but what about the ordinary storytellers of the world?
I’ve been thinking about the concept and deeper meaning of story quite a lot lately, particularly about the effects of the stories we tell ourselves, and the more I ponder, the more firmly I believe that those stories shape us, that they can make us or break us. Stories, and the beliefs that develop out of those stories, shape not only how we see the world, but also how we see ourselves and our place within that world.
Once a story is told, it no longer affects just one person, even if the words to that tale are never spoken aloud. That story will affect its audience of one and, like ripples on a pond, its message will quickly spread. Stories can unite us or tear us apart and have historically been used for both purposes. I hope my own stories will be used for the former purpose and not the latter.
It could be said that story is the ultimate legacy of the human race, that without story, we are nothing, and I think a good case could be made for that argument. After all, everyone has a story to tell, whether they are a writer or not.
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