With the world of communication in such constant transformation, it is baffling to see that as technology and language come and go, the one thing that has remained unchanged for over six thousand years is rhetoric. More specifically, our use of stories.
No matter where we go, no matter who we speak with, and no matter what device we speak with them on, we cannot avoid stories, and storytelling. Try and go to a party without hearing someone's story about their crazy aunt, or their miserable cousin. When we sit down with our families over dinner and ask, "how was your day?" what we're really saying is, "what stories did you live today?" Sharing stories is what draws us together, even when we've been apart so
long. Conversation, especially between my mother and I, usually consists of many people talking over one another. When one person is given the floor to tell a story, however, this is the one time where everyone is quiet and truly listens.
There seems to be this sort of addictive reverence for the art of telling stories. This was not invented by our culture either. The human desire for story stems back all the way to the Native Americans, the Medieval Legends, and even Jesus of Nazareth, the majority of whose teaching was done through parables, stories.
Why though? Why this propensity for storytelling? As a writer and an actor, I've done much thinking on this topic, and to me, the answers are endless. Stories are entertainment, of course, but they are so much more than that. Stories have a beginning, middle, and an end, they provide order out of the chaos of life. Stories have a moral, or a lesson, they instill hope when all seems lost. Stories are the great equalizer. In a world where everyone has different talents, callings, genders, struggles, races, and beliefs, one thing that we share, apart from out innate image-of-God-ness, is our reverence for the power of story. Whether we are aware of it or not, we cannot escape it. And why would we want to? For stories are our greatest vehicle by which to teach, to entertain, to inspire, to comfort, to connect, and to love.
To share a story, especially your story, is the share a piece of yourself. The highest level of vulnerability and trust exists between the storyteller and his or her audience. Be vulnerable then, trust, and share your story.