The Importance of Stories
Storytelling is part of every culture and is probably as ancient as language itself. Stories help us to understand the world and each other, and to create a sense of self. Children often ask for stories about their younger selves: ‘Tell me about when I was a baby’, and older people reminisce about their lives. They are creating autobiographical memories to answer the question ‘Who am I?’
The more we share in each other’s ‘thought worlds’ (1) which are made up of perceptions, ideas, images and self-reflection, the more we can understand each other. This is the power of story-telling whether in the form of the day’s news we share with our family, the sitcom on TV, an oral story which is handed down through the generations to record and explain, or one of the millions of books which we can so easily access. In all these ways we develop empathy and learn that there are more points of view and ways of life than just our own. From understanding can come love, peace, and community.
Simon Small in From the Bottom of the Pond (2) says:
‘We have a deep need to share our thoughts, desires and feelings. The need arises from a profound sense that we are on a shared journey and that in expressing to each other our experiences and thoughts, the boundaries between us fall away. Each journey is unique and in the sharing of what we see, the vision of all is broadened and deepened. To lower the boundaries that usually separate us is to become vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to love. To love is to experience the essential oneness of all things and to see its mystery.’
Sharing family stories is vital to our understanding of each other and of our place in the world. Stories bring us closer.
1- Lloyd Geering From the Big Bang to God Steele Roberts, 2013
2- Simon Small From the Bottom of the Pond John Hunt Publishing, 2007