On the Story(s) We Tell Ourselves

Brian and I watched a movie last night that affected us unexpectedly. An intense story, well told.  It put something in the room that wasn't there before... or perhaps that something was in the room, and this story simply shined a light on it. 

Regardless, we were disheartened. By the story. Not just because we're both romantics, and this was a decidedly unhappy ending, but because we have a distinct belief in the power of storytelling. And stories about needing someone to complete you, or about the right people or things in life to be afraid of, or of never being loved or having the chance to love...  smack of a fatalism, a cynical view of human nature that never gets a fair chance to change because we keep telling the same stories to the next generation. 

We dug in a bit deeper, not just about our responsibility as artists - about which stories we continue to put out into the spaces of the world - but also about the stories we continue to read, to watch, to listen to.  

Stories inadvertently shape our worldview and our desires. They frame expectations, create context, offer a moral compass, and create a lens through which we see and come to believe in or around things.

I know this may sound like a really serious response to watching what was, in all intents and purposes, a good movie, but I can only tell you that it triggered something profound in us.

It reminded me of a TED talk I saw years ago:  The Danger of a Single Story. I was fundamentally changed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's suggestion that our views of one another, of cultures outside our own are limited by knowing only one story about a place, a person, a happening in the world. 

So what about the stories we tell to ourselves about our own lives? Our interpretations of the past, the present, any yearnings or paths we feel are or are not possible in the future?

What if none of these stories we cling to are entirely true? What if they are purely contextual, bound or freed by the smallness or largeness of my personal cache? 

Buoyed by the power to change my own story by choosing the ones I consume, I find this reaches into social situations as well. Someone may speak with conviction about something, but the conviction is not from a place of 'fact' but rather, a place of deep personal belief. It changes things. Considering others' voices this way. And my own.