Monday, February 29, 2016

The Story

We all tell stories.  Some as transient as clothes or quick jokes that can't be repeated too often- they go out of style.  Some as permanent as bones which act as the pillars to hold up our legacy.  We use them to define ourselves, our world, our lives.  We use them to explain our existence.

But stories are told by storytellers- those who have wit and charisma to spice up the dull parts and add tension and terror where it's needed.  Those who can lilt their words and lengthen their pauses to lull the listener into calm or excitement.   Those who remember how to spot in the crowd, how to deliver the punch line.  The story is just a tool in the aresenal, and it's meaning is given to it by the story teller.

All of our lives are stories, every moment being cataloged and remembered for a specific purpose.  As we tell these stories, as we repeat them over and over again, the truth gets foggier and foggier.  The events they were based on aren't as clearly remembered.  The details get left in favor of the overall message, the purpose of the story.

And what happens when the story breaks?  When the message doesn't match the facts?  Well then the arguing begins.  "That's not how I remember it".  "It didn't happen the way you're saying it did."  "You're exaggerating."  We quibble about the details, we get lost in the facts (none of which are clearly remembered), we get angry at the missed points or the lack of continuity.

And all the while, we miss that we're not telling the same story anymore.  We miss that the purpose has changed.  We miss the message, because the details aren't clear anymore and we can't rebuild the power the tale once had.

It hurts when a story breaks.  It hurts when we realize that maybe it was just a story- that the powerful, almost magical way it carried us was perhaps just a creation of the storytellers.  It hurts when we realize that the facts that made it up in the first place are gone, replaced by memories hand-selected by the story because they supported the message.  It hurts when we can't tell the story anymore because it doesn't feel true.

And when the story breaks down, when the storytellers run out of words... the silence is deafening.

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