The Heart of Storytelling

By Harold Stearley At Earthwalking

I read a post a couple of days ago stating that the difference between humans and other animals was the ability of humans to tell stories.  And that this ability is what has led to discoveries, inventions (good and bad), art, poetry, war, etc.

Of course, I believe other species have their own way of telling stories. 🙂

Stories have been said to create a special niche where we love to reside.  Fictional worlds that fill our minds, the majority of the time for some of us, with a central plot-line of underlying “conflict.”  There are generally dark forces to overcome, battles to be won or lost, struggles that define the protagonists, to whom we relate ourselves.

It is us that mirrors back as being the heroine or hero.  Whether defeated or exalted.

And social stories, those originating from clan or tribe, or a larger society, provide a clear mechanism for shaping behavior.  They provide moral and ethical boundaries.  Delineate punishment for crossing those boundaries and rewards for painting inside the lines.

Although, at times, there are escape routes.  There are side trails that lead to innovations.  An expansion of mind that can lead to an expansion of truths or norms.  In short, growth or evolution.

Although some may be outcast or even killed for having such novel ideas.  At first.  With society, as a whole, catching up later.

And none of these many stories may be stronger than those of creation.  How this planet came to be.  How we came to be on it.  What our purpose is.  And the very base of purpose.

That purpose being love.  Being compassion.  Being soul development.  At least in my mind’s stories.

And yet we must also beware.

Because there clearly has evolved, or deliberately propagated, a cultural bias in the stories that have been told and the places and times where those stories are told.

The easiest example lies with government administrations that like to shape or frame a particular narrative.  For example, we have “reforms” not “cuts” or “obstructions.”  People are saved in this way, not cast aside, segregated, or destroyed.

On a bit smaller level, attorneys like to frame issues too.  To win cases.  You see, if the legal issue is framed a certain way, then the answer, the application of the facts to the law, shifts to fit in the desired box.  At times, the articulated laws bent and twisted into the exact opposite of their very language.

Institutional medicine follows similar algorithms.   If X and Y, then treat with Z.  And if the disease doesn’t fit the algorithms, then it’s the patient’s fault.  Not medicine’s failure.

The education establishment dictates what can and cannot be taught, or learned.  In this country, a solid white, European, Christian bias.  Where many of the American heroes had really stolen their ideas and inventions from others in other countries.  Where glory has been equated with slavery and genocide.  Ethnocentrism prevails.

Cultures can be the leaders of lies.

I am also reading more lately about how indigenous cultures, the First Nations people, are beginning to tell their stories and I think that’s wonderful.  Just as valid and imaginative as any others.  Just as much of a foundation for science and technology too. Just as thorough as any other moral and ethical codes.  Some would argue more so, especially in relation to treating Mother Earth with respect.

We clearly have much to learn.

Sadly, I also notice a modern-day trend where tremendous loss is occurring at the family level.  Family and genealogical history are being lost.

Circling back to those original tribal or clan stories.

Not as much importance is being placed on tales from the past, but as we know that famous quote about those not learning from history are doomed. What is really sad is this seems to be happening by choice among many, whereas, in the past, it was forced, with violence, upon the Native cultures. What a struggle it has been for the First Nations, living in two worlds, to reclaim their own languages, traditions, and stories.

And today, many, of all nations, simply discard theirs.

The art of communication is being lost.  The purpose of soul development replaced with the drive for individual wealth.  Not even community wealth.  The story narrative having shifted.  Triumph is not attaining wisdom, it is accumulating gold.

So one reason I truly like the blogging community is that we have a place. We have a tribe where we can share our stories.  Record them.  For ourselves and others.

It’s more than a creative outlet.  It is the telling of time.  It is the beating of a shared heart.

I’ll gladly share mine with you.  And I hope to feel your pulse in your words.

A friend’s blog summed up a cure we need for many of today’s diseases.

We need Healers

I came across this quote through my blogging friend Dr. Perry.  You ought to check out his page.  The quote itself is attributed to the Dalai Lama.

In Metta


Photo: I was originally planning on choosing a pic of the ocean.  The ocean is, in many ways, our heart.  Our point of origination.  We emerged from the waters, with lungs and kidneys to maintain an internal sea.  A salt-water environment carried with us into the upright world of dry earth and air.

But as poetic as that story image is, I came across this one first.  And the Blue Waters just captivate me.  This heart of the forest.  This pic was not altered in any way.  This is the natural appearance of this beautiful water course, as it winds its way through the lush woodlands.  Surrounded by wildflowers and ferns.  Imagine all of the stories that could be told of this forest.  This water.  This blue light of life.  This heart beat of ancient time.



15 thoughts on “The Heart of Storytelling”

    1. I too am a big fan of Mr. Harari. I’m in the process of re-reading all three of his books and have quoted him several times in my own posts. He speaks to me the way he cuts through the long-held subjective stories we are prone to believe in — and cuts to the realities we are blinded to.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Definitely good reads. And he really does break it down to basics – what we know and have proof of and what we don’t. It’s also interesting to contemplate the future through his lens

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good Stuff! Looks like I’ve missed a lot in being away too long. I’m a big believer in story-telling. More so on how our brain deals in stories (ie the story of who you are) and how it functions best with receiving stories in return. As in (my post) — The Worlds Greatest Story-Teller.

    I also share your concerns about how stories used today are twisted and subjectively manipulated by those seeking their own agendas. Maybe even more frightening is the fact that it’s so prominent today in its use. It seems we’ve become so complacent in its misleading objectives that we no-longer even realize that we are being manipulated in this way. Or even scarier — no longer care?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks ! And thanks for sharing your insight. It is wild how stories are twisted and manipulated. It does make you wonder how effective communication can be if the message received has been so distorted by the persons reading it. Storytelling is truly an ancient art and worthy of preservation, even though people do have such short attention spans now a days

      Liked by 1 person

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