Why stories give us a reason to live
June 13, 2018
After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
I sometimes wonder why I do it.
But I get up to write another day.
And there is always another day in which to write.
I wonder if it’s all worthwhile, this notion that I can sling words together to make sentences, then create enough sentences to tell a story.
Those are my favorite words in the universe.
There is unbridled excitement in the first step of the journey.
There is a sense of relief when the final mile is taken.
That’s how books are made.
And I sometimes wonder why I do it.
Then Philip Pullman told me.
I don’t know if you’ve read the works of Philip Pullman.
If not, you should.
He’s the British author who has written a number of best-selling fantasy novels, but he’s most famous for His Dark Materials trilogy.
Philip put it this way: After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
The more I think about it, the more I realize the genuine depth of his statement.
In the South, we don’t carry on conversations.
We tell stories.
We meet for coffee, we meet on the street corner, we meet after church, we sit on the front porch, we gather at football games, and you tell me a story.
Then I’ll tell you one.
And that reminds you of another.
Stories are our social nourishment.
We find refuge in stories. They are our shelter against all the evils that assail us.
Have you been to any funerals lately?
They are the final words of a sad and often tragic circumstance.
But when the last amen is said, the last hymn has been sung, and the last clod of dirt dropped gingerly on the coffin, families gather at somebody’s home to eat and grieve.
Someone tells a story.
It’s an old story.
But no one has heard it for a long time.
Then here comes another story.
And someone laughs.
Then others laugh.
And most of them feared they might never laugh again.
Stories were salve upon the wounds.
Stories recount the moments in life that mean and meant the most.
As long as the stories are told, no one ever really dies until the stories fade away, and stories remain for generations past and generations to come.
Stories are our companions when there’s no one left.
We would be lost without them.
As Maya Angelou once said: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
We each have our stories.
We keep them.
But we never keep them to ourselves.
And that’s why I do it.
That’s why I write.
As my friend and author Stephen Woodfin always tells me: Writing the one addiction we can’t cure.
Please click HERE to find Back Side of a Blue Moon on Amazon.