Updated: Aug 12, 2019
How've you been? It's been a long couple of months and I've been meaning to write and then... well, I didn't. Anyway, I'm writing to you now. Been thinking about stories.
I've had a summer of stories; some I've already forgotten, others will come back to life each time something prompts my memory, and there are stories I will tell in a way that shapes them into being more meaningful, more beautiful or even more terrible. They are my own personal myths, stories from only my perspective, and I will effortlessly create my own narrative without thinking twice. I don't actually think this is necessarily a bad thing, it's definitely something we all do, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot. Do we tell others these stories to process them and move on? To get them out of our minds and pass them on so they are not forgotten? Or do we tell them to shape our idea of ourselves and explain why we are the way we are?
I'm not talking about the funny anecdotes or the one hour rants to friends. I'm pretty sure we share that stuff to laugh and vent and not go insane when the world is basically a crazy place. I'm talking about our story-stories; the time someone broke your heart, you had a break down, you started again, changed your world and came out the other side better for the experience. That stuff.
We have a lifetime of stories to share and stories to keep. These stories seem to be a way of us creating our own history. If we tell ourselves the story of that time we overcame that crappy thing and it all turned out well, then we feel strong and capable. If we speak about the darker periods of our lives with a nice neat 'beginning', 'middle', 'end' then we give everything a narrative arc, a fairytale-esque quality, that makes us feel better. It's all so simple, it's like our lives are not just chaotic moments, jumbled together, always unfinished and ever changing. Instead, they have purpose and when shit things happen, personal growth and a clear outcome is a given. You meet someone new and you can tell them your highlights and tragedies like it's a book synopsis. You can tell them what you have learned and what the next chapter you are currently writing is going to be about.
So what about you, Universe? Do you remember our stories? Do they actually matter? Is one person's tale of overcoming crap and becoming a superhuman really that interesting to you? Do you like to hear them? Does the telling of a good tale make the world a better place or are we kidding ourselves?
We understand ourselves with our stories. The problem is that we create a self-made truth with our internal monologues. We show the world what we would like them to think of us through stories. We connect to other people's stories and, sometimes, we love them so much we long to be in someone else's story. We re-write stories when it suits us. We finish writing a future chapter before we even get there. We enjoy living in the fantasy of a story that has been and gone, in place of living the story that is happening right now.
All of this may be true, or may be a load of nonsense, but there is something I know: I love a good story.
Yours happily ever after,
photo by Kilian Schönberger