Why do we tell stories? Why do we listen to stories? Why are we willing to exchange large sums of money for a story?
I always thought it was for the escape, the thrill of living a new life for just five minutes or throwing yourself into an adventure where the impossible is possible, a breath of fresh air to the mundaneness of everyday life.
But if you remove yourself from the pace of this fast world and walk to the beat of the story without hurrying to the next climatic moment, stories can become the pursuit of healing. And this takes time. A book then becomes a safe space of communion where the reader becomes an integral part of the story and the story an integral part of the reader.
Take what Thomas King says for instance, in “The Truth About Stories”. Take a story, any story that means something to you, and “Do with it what you will. Tell it to friends…Forget it. But don’t say in years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story.” The last bit may sound foreboding but the meaning is simple; stories have power, whether it’s the power of entertainment, the power of making us feel, or the power of helping us heal. It is the reader who feels the effect of this power and either internalizes it or shares it with other readers by either discussing the story or just by passing on the title.
So the next time you pick up a book, whether it is a collection of short essays or a classic Western novel, remember that what you are holding is a story. You can keep it a secret, like a pearl to treasure within yourself. Or you could share it, depending on how you experience it. I hope the next story that you hear or read will provide that safe space of connection and healing, whatever this may mean to you.