The Thing We Need Most
The author Philip Pullman wrote, "After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." I love this quote and I have a tiny quibble. I believe that stories are a form of both nourishment and companionship. Stories feed our souls and they are the essence of companionship.
Sharing a story or receiving a story can be one of the most intimate things that we do. In the sharing we open ourselves up and offer a piece of our life whether funny, tragic, or anywhere in between. When we share a story we open a window into the reality of who we are and what we think is important enough to tell to another. When we receive someone's story we are also opening ourselves. We are taking time to listen to what someone else wants to tell us.
Throughout time stories served many purposes, they were inspirational, they helped us survive, and they were how we passed along the knowledge and history of our tribe. We would sit around the fire pit and talk of the ancients and the wisdom they had to offer.
We would sit on a bench and tell about the day that we went on the roller coaster for the first and last time, making everyone laugh with the shared experience of being scared out of our wits by something that was supposed to be fun. Mostly what we would do would be to give insight into our life and connect to the humanity within our listeners, no matter how different they might be from us.
In an event that was recently in the news a school clerical worker talked a young man with mental illness out of going on a shooting rampage at a school in Georgia by talking with him, listening to his story and sharing some of hers. In one of the most intensely frightening circumstances that I can imagine this woman defused the situation by connecting to this young man's story. If story can impact a life threatening situation what can bringing attention to story do for our everyday life?
We are our stories. The tragedy of Alzheimer's is that it robs us of the stories that have made us who we are and our lives what they are. Each day of our life we decide how we will live based on the stories that we tell ourselves and each other. When we tell ourself a story that has us making choices about how life will be and having power in decision making we have a very different experience than if the story we tell ourself is one of being a victim, always at the mercy of events beyond our control.
In our interconnected world we have to remember that sharing a 140 character tweet, or an update on Facebook isn't a replacement for taking the time to share our stories in a more personal way. Talking with someone and seeing their face as they hear what you have to say is qualitatively different than an online post, regardless of how many "likes" you receive. Telling and receiving stories engages us in human interactions that feed our souls in a way that nothing else can.
In whatever way you choose to share your story, writing, dance, art, whatever form it takes, make sure that you do share it!