“We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are.”
says Andrew Stanton in his TED talk “The Clues To A Good Story” which has been one of my favorites as of late. I’ve been exploring this topic with generous helpings of more TED talks, written articles, and other people’s stories to try and understand more about them. After all, stories are the backbone of (Sense)story Perception and the reason why this space exists is to tell them, to share them, and if we are lucky- to learn from them.
As I’ve continued to write stories about my life both here and elsewhere I’ve had the fortunate (and sometimes awkward) opportunity to look back on them in timeline formation. What I wrote about in 2009 is different than what I’m writing about today. There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments, others that make me laugh, and most interestingly moments when I’m just scratching the surface of an idea or a thought, trying my very best to say something and say it well, yet very noticeably not saying it at all.
I hold those memories close to my heart because there’s a gift in being able to remember who you are. Stories are the maps of our lives. Moments crystallized in words and pictures, retold as best we can- metaphorical pushpins on a metaphorical map, always leading us forward.
Yet, even though our stories exist in the past they never seem to stay there. The same ones that I wrote five years ago have themes that are still prevalent in my life today in some shape or form. They’ve grown with me. Some of them are stories that I’m still trying to tell and others have lessons that are harder to learn than others. And I’m okay with that. I have a feeling I’ll look back at this post in five years time and probably think the same thing. In a way, that’s what compels us to keep telling our tales. Stories aren’t about the conclusions, they are, as Stanton says, an “affirmation of being alive”. We use them as legend, compass, and map to guide us somewhere…anywhere at all.
Stories do affirm who we are. We love them because we are made of stories. There are times when our stories do not just belong to us, when we get to share a memory with another person and watch it come to life with more than one voice-when we are allowed the perspective to see more than just ourselves. The stories of our lives are not mapped out on a single path but intersect with millions of others.
And at the heart of it all we may find that the only proper way to end a story is to never let it end.