Making Time to Learn from Story
When we realize that stories are more than mental escapes, we incorporate them into our lives as guideposts. I’ve been reading a comic book series called The Unwritten again. It's been a while since I last read it, but whenever I do, it's always so engaging.
It's a story about story.
It's a story about how we, as readers, imbue a tale with power and how authors / writers / creators can manipulate that power in the real world (along with more nefarious forces). It's about belief. It delves into the history of the world's stories, and it connects them with the most modern.
I'm also reading Rob Bell’s Tumblr series about the Bible. (I especially like the one about Jonah and the fish.) Through the series, Bell points out the common elements of stories that resonated in several early cultures: the flood, the Tower of Babel, and many others.
Though the point of these stories diverged from one another depending on their originating culture, there are very powerful elements that remain consistent. These elements meant something. They were foundational in our understanding of the world.
“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.” ― Lloyd Alexander
— Jon Morrow (@JonMorrow) November 5, 2014
Story is what we think about life. It is what the authors observed of life, whether they meant to celebrate its beauty or warn of its decay.
The stories that resonate with a larger audience — these are the ones that show agreed-upon meanings in life.
Whether we find a conclusive meaning for all life through story or not, we keep turning back to it. We yearn for it.
Story and Work
At Mudbug Media (the day job), we’ve been talking about branding as story. We, as a company, and we through a product line, seek to engage clients in a story that casts them as the heroes of the tale. Of course, we want to be a part of that story, too. We wish to serve the heroes through our work.
Telling a story means that we start to make distinctions about what we do. This is who we're trying to help, and here is how we can be of service. There are roles to play to help make sense of a competitive market.
It's not that story will suddenly make challenges go away, but it will help us focus on the main objectives. By keeping the purpose of our role in mind, we have a much stronger drive than if we were simply trying to keep all of our checklists checked off.
Story and Life
I've written about recent realizations for my own story before, but it bears mentioning again that life is not linear. It's not like a movie. There isn't one plotline that rises and resolves. Life is more like a television series, where each season and even every episode brings new challenges.
There are opportunities for multiple plotlines. Even if has resolved in your life, there are so many more to explore.
Take Time for Story
I've made the mistake of crowding out fiction recently in a quest to do more learning through instructive books, but fiction has just as much to teach us. The wonderful thing about fiction is that it doesn't come right out and tell you what you're supposed to learn. There's mystery. There's interpretation. There's a chance to learn even more than the author intended.
How about you?
What stories were most instructive or impactful for you?