By Tiffany Matthews
Why do we tell stories?
In the olden days, stories were told around campfires to pass time and to pass on the history of our people. They were lessons wrapped in myth, meant to teach us about the ways of the world and principles that our ancestors before us once stood for. Today stories continue to be an influential medium especially through clever storytelling.
As children, we grew up listening to and eventually reading fairy tales, only to be told later by adults that these classic tales are not true. Real life is no fairy tale and that we should not believe in happily-ever-after. Neil Gaiman refutes this and has emphasized the importance of stories, even fairy tales, through this statement:
ÂFairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.Â
In his childrenÂs book, The Graveyard Book, Gaiman further reiterates the value of stories and how one story can change a personÂs life.
ÂWe who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.Â
Another author, Stephen King, confirms the power of stories and how they can influence lives. Writing tales that resonate with readers goes beyond fame or wealth. In On Writing, King said:
ÂWriting isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well.Â
Stories allow us a brief respite from the daily pressures of life, an escape into a place where anything and everything is possible. Though these tales may revolve around fictional characters, they reflect the same struggles that we go through and inspire us to overcome these challenges just as they were able to. This is why I agree with GaimanÂs sentiment, that one story could change your life forever.
A story about a woman reconciling with a long lost father may seem ordinary to people, but to one person, it could be the catalyst that would launch him or her on a quest to find an estranged parent. That touching tale could spur you into action and hunt for that missing parent through Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (this is more on the professional side though), a social database like Mylife.com or whatever means you could find. It could take you on a journey you never expected and discover the infinite possibilities you never considered before.
Stories are powerful things, portable magic that you can share so that others too can find the inspiration they need to defeat–both literary and real–dragons.