This week, as I have watched those around me come together in the wake of tragedy and sadness after losing you, so loved and so young, I’ve been reminded of the force that telling stories encapsulates over and over again.
According to “The Psychological Power of Storytelling,” by Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A. (Psychology Today, Jan. 2011), there are many psychological reasons why stories are so powerful. Here are a few:
- “Stories have always been a primal form of communication. They are timeless links to ancient traditions, legends, archetypes, myths, and symbols. They connect us to a larger self and universal truths.
- Stories are about collaboration and connection. They transcend generations, they engage us through emotions, and they connect us to others. Through stories we share passions, sadness, hardships and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.
- Stories are how we think. They are how we make meaning of life. Call them schemas, scripts, cognitive maps, mental models, metaphors, or narratives. Stories are how we explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand our place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values.
- Stories provide order. Humans seek certainty and narrative structure is familiar, predictable, and comforting. Within the context of the story arc we can withstand intense emotions because we know that resolution follows the conflict. We can experience with a safety net.
- Stories connect us and bridge differences.”
So many stories I’ve heard this week, Ally. All about you. And though they were told through curtains of tears and sniffles, those tales were also shared with sheer joy and laughter, with remembrance and out of respect. Out of absolute love.
Those stories about you matter more than anything right now, because they are helping to fill the cracks and crevices of missing meaning. They are attempting to bring understanding. They are helping with healing and reparation, a way to comfort and soothe those who will miss you so much. I know you heard them, too. And I know you are with them when they share more.
Storytelling is at the heart of the basic human condition, critical to what sets us apart as a life form.
We must keep telling them. And listening to them. We must help each other revise those stories again and again and again.
Until they provide answers. Until they feel right. Until they leave a permanent mark.
Just like you did, Ally.