Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Why do we humans need storytelling so much?

by Rick Blechta

Stories are such an integral part of our lives. Every nation, every culture, all people tell stories. The formats vary widely, but when you stop and think about it, they’re a huge part of our everyday lives and I’m certain this goes right back to our earliest ancestors.

Stories help us understand who we are and how we fit into our societies. They tell us where we came from. They can be basic — your mother telling you about your birth — right up to the latest 3D, computer-generated wonders out of Hollywood. It makes no difference. At their root all stories are the same. They teach, they make us wonder, they make us think and consider, they can give us comfort or sorrow, and they can entertain. They can be spoken, written, sung, watched. They can even be conveyed through images with no attached words or dialogue.

I wonder if there is a single human, alive or dead, who has not been blessed with storytelling in their life? I cannot imagine it. First and foremost, it would be hard to run away from, wouldn’t it? Can you imagine living without stories? No books, no movies, no radio or television, books on tape, talking to other people. Storytelling starts early, basically as soon as we can understand what are parents are saying to us we’re being told stories.
We humans crave to be told stories. I know I do. I read as much as I am able. I love to watch movies. When driving on long trips, I always have an audio book on. I’m particularly fond of radio plays. In contemplating this topic I realized just how ever-present stories are in my life.

Most of all, though, I love telling stories. It’s what drives me to write novels. Heaven knows I don’t do it for the money I make! It’s what makes all writers put so much effort into sharing their ideas and characters, and it’s a wonder for us when we share our creations with other humans.

Hopefully our stories will outlive us, and that too is a wonder. What would Homer think if he was told that his two great works, The Iliad and The Odyssey were still being enjoyed thousands of years after he created them?

Now I don’t for a moment believe anyone will be reading a Blechta creation thousands of years from now, but it’s enough to know people are reading them right now — and hopefully enjoying the experience.

And now I’ve just told you a short little story. I hope you got something out of it.

1 comment:

Sven said...

I agree; I love a good story, especially if it’s told by someone who enjoys the story and reading in general. I grew up with two parents who loved reading my brother and I stories, and listening to them on tape during long car trips. Great column!