When I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me stories. He’d make up lavish tales (that, later in life, I realized were all based off of Star Trek and Star Wars) about my sister and I saving the world, thwarting evil and destruction, and all before bedtime. They were brilliant stories. Stories of imagination and a life lived that was not my own.
Whether it was these stories or my primal love of all things books, I’ve grown into an adult with a secret fascination: I’m obsessed with stories. Books. Movies. Plays. Heck, even a good commercial. If it has a good story in it, then I’m in love. In fact, I have a very difficult time reading a book unless it has a good story in it (ask my friends—they get very tired of recapping awesome nonfiction books for me because, even though I think they sound brilliant, I just won’t read them). I need a beginning, middle, and end; I need a character I can root for, cry with, and relate to.
In fact, it’s stories that have taught me some major life lessons: I want to be strong like Furiosa and confident like Willowdean; I want to lead like Darrow, blaze trails like Puck, and love like Westley and Buttercup.
Stories are not only a fundamental part of our human history, but they’re, essentially, the only way we can understand someone else’s life. The only way we can learn about others’ experiences. To see from another’s perspective, to swap footwear.
I recently watched Still Alice, the beautiful film in which Julienne Moore won Best Actress in 2015 playing a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. I avoided watching this movie for a year because it hit a little too close to home, and I knew watching the film would be a very emotional experience for me. But, when I was ready, I sat down and watched. And the story was unlike one I’d ever seen before. It gave me a tether, a sliver of understanding, of what it may be like for those diagnosed and—to the best of my ability—for those in my life affected by such a disease.
I recently listened to a podcast by The Liturgists that talks about just this. The hosts of the show spend a week at the Sundance Film Festival interviewing creators, artists, directors, and producers all exploring the same topic: why we tell stories. And while their topics of conversation varied over the course of the week, the same conclusion rang true: we tell to understand. Understand the world, understand ourselves, understand others.
If you’re here, then you’re likely a creator or producer of stories. You mold and guide and share stories. To understand. To proclaim a truth. To collectively be or experience something new, something wonderful, or something necessary. For justice, for love, for belief, for humanity. For oneness. For good.
So what is the purpose of this blog post? Why have I droned on about stories—besides the fact that I clearly have a problem? Sometimes I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that we have the power and the heart to make a difference in the world. To live in that which has the means to move and change.
Words build worlds.
So, go. Build.