as out cycling today and saw a big pickup rounding a corner into Baldwin Park, a snobby upper-class neighborhood just up the road. And I had to think – why would a rich bastard who probably couldn’t lift a bag of mulch himself (as if he didn’t have gardeners for that) need a pickup truck? It’s got to be his story about himself. Down to earth practical, right?
My own cars tell stories about me, sporty, economical, fun and nostalgic. Yes, those are the stories I want surrounding me.
In ancient times (like those in the books I’ll be plugging below), a wandering storyteller might come into a village and recount the myths of the gods. These are well-known tales the common people enjoy, about heroes and villains and epic battles (no different from the Marvel franchises which boot, reboot, and rereboot the same stories). In fact, look at your Hulu or Netflix account: stories, stories, stories.
Perhaps people are wired to think in terms of stories. When you look at that cupcake in the fridge, instantly your brain fills with stories of you exercising, or otherwise deserving it. When we say that something has happened to us, it’s not a blanket statement (I dinged the car) but an epic (So I was driving down the road, minding my business and…). All of our entertainments, all of our thoughts are stories.
I’ve seen it countless times at work. Someone tells a story about someone else being unreasonable. When they get to the dialog of their nemesis, they even substitute a silly voice. Their own voice is never silly. Their own voice (in their own story) is reasonable and heroic.
Even our public space, we have a large number of people believing (and retelling) the Qanon story, about a massive conspiracy, hidden power, stolen votes, pedophilia. And you ask them what source are they quoting, which always turns out to either be word of mouth or an obvious fraud spreader that wouldn’t fool a five-year old.
Our entire lives are stories.
The take-away for the writers out there is this: yes, there are no more original stories. But look deep and find your story, one that comes from your heart. Tap into that human shared experience of the story, capture it, shape it, and polish it. That’s what we do. We tell stories.