Storytelling as a way to understand life.

“Just the facts ma’am!”

We live in a culture that is founded on science, reason and raw data. Most of our days, especially those of working professionals, are full of stats, data graphs, bullet lists and, ugh, PowerPoint. We go to eat something and the box shows us with percentages how healthy this item ranks as a percentage of our daily values. Or when we try to discuss a possible purchase we make lists of pros and cons, talk about the different features and specifications, even look up the “star” rating on a review website.

Most of what we do is about the abstraction of facts and data. If possible, we would use use a database for real life conversation so that the pure information could be stored and used when we need it.

Ok, but why?

At the end of all this we find ourselves longing for something. Songs, films and TV shows reveal just how much we desire the narrative format to understand the why behind the how of life. The same thing is true of questions that pure analytical science hasn’t discovered. Let’s say the evolution of species is factual as the way human came into being…. great, we’ve got the how, now why?

Why did we become human instead of something closer to Predator? Why two versions of human instead of one? Why not an asexual being that can give birth to adult like children? Why mess around with love when humanity depends on procreation? Why do men and women naturally attract? Why do we feel the need to explain away our infidelity if marriage isn’t valid? Why do I choose to do things that I know are proven factually to be completely unhelpful and even destructive? Why doesn’t knowing that I am loved (with tangible evidence of that love in actions toward me by Lee Anne) take away all my fears about being disconnected from other humans?

The why question gets to me often. It doesn’t make any sense that I would make the choices I’ve made and yet I still choose, often, to ignore the important things and embrace the small, safe, calculated things. Why spend time in heart conversation with my wife when we could be finishing our to do list? Why tell the story of my life when I could talk about the dollar amount Sony lost on its TV business last year?

Stories are scary.

Because we encounter life as a first person narrative story, stories become the deepest way to share what’s going on inside. So when asked how my day went, I reply with “good” instead of sharing about my interactions with people and how I felt and the reactions and the STORY.

If we were to slow down long enough we would find something even scarier than sharing our heart through stories. We would discover that we have lost one of the key parts of being human. Our humanity is more than the pursuit of money, information or even procreation. Our humanity is about connection. The why that haunts me (and you, right?) is answered when I have a real life heart level connection to another human being.

We were designed to speak life, we were spoken into existence and our lives should be about sharing stories – the ones we are living and the ones we use to explain the Truth of life.