Stories make the world go round. Not money. Not love. It’s true – look around you, there are stories everywhere. On TV there are soap stories, films, news stories. There are newspapers full of stories, there are countless novels and short stories in bookshops and magazines full of true life stories. The internet is full of all kinds of stories, videos and blogs. People relate to each other through story, ‘I went into town today and you’ll never guess what happened…’.
Your life is a story. History is a story. We are the heroes and heroines in our own stories, our own protagonists, kings and queens in miniature eclectic kingdoms.
There are a million and one diaries out there with the hidden thoughts, feelings and records of individuals who have the patience to see their life in terms of a story, a sequence of significant events. Some of the stories are honest, some are lies, some are true, some are exaggerated. Some are more believable than others.
If life is a story, it isn’t too strange that no chapter can be repeated in exactly the same way. Past chapters can be romanticized.
‘It was better back then.’
‘Those were my glory days’.
Can’t they happen again?
‘There was less fear in the past’.
‘It was safer’.
The past is always safe.
Sometimes characters in the stories leave us. New characters appear. Sometimes there are antagonists. There are challenges and themes and ironies. There has to be a plot. It has to be something – even history is a plot full of particular events.
How are we supposed to enjoy the present scene and characters when we are still thinking about the past or wrapped up in the future? Or if the present is intolerable, how are we supposed to be proactive enough to give ourselves our happily ever afters?
By acknowledging that the fear will always be there. By acting even when there is fear. By not romanticising a past which was never as good as it seemed.
After the second world war there were two kinds of people who came through it. There were those who looked back on the war-days with a kind of rose-tinted nostalgia.
They would say: ‘People got together, communities worked together, everyone was in the same boat, we had good friends and we were united.’
Then there were others who said: ‘It was a scary time and we were afraid’.
Who was being more honest?
Stories make the world go round.
Write yours well.