Story Isn’t a Dirty Word

by | Jul 21, 2016

I think humans are wired for stories, and naturally seek to encapsulate their experiences into narratives that help to explain what has happened. Without an arc, any series of events that are somehow tied together, don’t really seem to make much sense. And since we are a linear species, we like to think of things like beginning, middle and end. What a perfect story.

We are the collection of everything that’s ever happened to us. If everything we ever experienced had the same level of interest or importance attached to it, then nothing would stand out at all. Life would be bland, listless, pointless.

To me, no-thing is boring. Meaning, there is not one thing that has ever happened that is actually boring. It’s just the way that thing has been portrayed. To be truly boring, NOTHING would happen. And nothing never happens At least not yet. It’ll take a very long time for things to (not) happen.

Story is an interesting word that seems to have taken on a number of meanings. Here’s what an online thesaurus came up with for synonyms for story:

adventure
anecdote
article
autobiography
biography
book
comedy
description
drama
fable
fantasy
feature
fiction
history
information
legend
memoir
myth
narrative
novel
record
report
tale
tragedy
version
allegory
apologue
beat
chronicle
cliffhanger
epic
folktale
gag
narration
nonfiction
parable
potboiler
recital
relation
romance
saga
scoop
sequel
serial
spiel
yarn
conte
fairy tale
long and short of it
news item
old saw

GOOD LORD. What breadth! What contradiction! Doesn’t it seem that there are outright cancellations of meaning in many of these synonyms? And why do we need so many? I wonder (and am going to find out) how many synonyms there are for story in other languages, because I’ll bet that would be a pretty good indicator on whether that culture thrives on stories, or is more… practical.

Don’t all those words just take you on a roller coaster of emotions, reading down that list? Looking at it confirms my thought: just how firmly the concept, and the need, for story really is, no matter what the subject is. It fills something very fundamental inside all people. I love the way people light up, and actually grow ever so slightly younger, even if just for a second, when hearing a good one.

The facts might be about something truly plebian, but if couched as a story, with some interesting bits brought to the fore, then the mind that’s hearing it clicks in to gear, and begins to resonate with the story.

We get a big kick out of finding the story within the facts that the scientists we work with present to us. This stuff is much stranger than fiction and far more inventive than anything that’s been thought up.

The story is always there. Always.

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