People And Stories And Why We Need Them~ A Story Ramble

Hey, everyone. It’s me again.

(I mean, who else would you expect it to be?)

Anyway…

Times are weird. I think that much is evident. Things are splitting and dividing and a lot of people are angry or desperate or just plain scared.

This is not going to be a political post. This blog wasn’t made for politics, and I want it to stay that way. It was made for stories.

And I think that now is a good time to remember how important stories really are.

All of human history is comprised of stories. There are good stories and bad stories and stories that have been forgotten. There are true stories and there are myths, but they have all somehow contributed to where we are today.

As a child, your parents or your grandparents probably told you stories about when they were kids, and about when their parents were young. Our memories of the people who came before us are made up of all the stories we know about them. And as we grow, we start to make our own stories. Maybe we start to wonder, what will they remember about me when I’m gone?

The older we get, the more we start to see that the world is full of stories we haven’t even thought about. There are stories everywhere. Everyone has a story, and everyone needs their story to be heard.

We can’t possibly hear every story there is. That would be impossible. But we can make an effort to listen to as many as we are able.

And not only that, but to listen with the intent to understand.

History…it’s complicated

History is not as simple as we would perhaps like it to be. I often hear people condemning those who came before us, sometimes rather brutally, for the things that they did.

But we are seeing these things from the outside. We are only seeing a partial picture of what happened. We didn’t have to live through all the wars and sicknesses and natural disasters that we read about in history books. It’s so much easier to decide what theyΒ should have done… from the comfort of our living rooms in the 21st century, years and years after the fact, when we have all the outcomes conveniently laid out for us. Do you know for sure that you would have acted differently if you lived in that time, in that place?

On the flip side, I hear people praising our ancestors as if they did no wrong. But again, this is clearly an oversimplification. And it’s usually leaving out a lot of important details about the lives they led. They were all human, like we are. They all made mistakes, like we do. Sometimes they did truly awful things, that there is no excuse for.

Here’s something to think about:

It’s so much easier to see the shape of something from far away than it is from inside of it.

I mean, imagine if you were a bug in the middle of a doughnut. You wouldn’t know what shape that doughnut was, would you? But if you were a pelican sitting at the window looking in at the doughnut, you would be able to clearly see the shape. You wouldn’t be able to taste the doughnut though, would you?

Wow, what a metaphor that was.

The point is, we can’t look back and see history from the inside. It’s just not possible. And how well can we really judge people for things we can’t fully understand?

That’s not to say that people haven’t done absolutely horrible things throughout human history. Unspeakable atrocities have been committed by humanity.That is a known fact that I don’t think anyone is trying to deny.

Throughout human history, there have been stories that were prevented from being told, and that’s not okay.

But I guess my point is that that should be a sobering thought, rather than an opportunity to judge someone else for something they did wrong. If people are capable of committing and approving such awful things, who is to say that we are not doing the same thing now, and we’re just too close to it to recognize it? What will people say when they look back in their history books about the time we are living in now and how people behaved? What stories are we actively or passively ignoring in our world today?

It’s just a thought.

It’s important to remember where we came from. It’s important to look at both the good and the bad. If we disregard the past, we will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes our ancestors made, and we will be at the disadvantage of not being able to glean from the positive acts they performed. History never becomes irrelevant. It only builds on itself. It’s doing it right now.

We can’t disconnect from history. We are a part of it.

Personal Stories

So, to be honest, trying to look at the whole story is kind of intimidating for people like me. I’ve never been a huge history nerd. I tend to gravitate towards fiction. But that doesn’t make me exempt from the responsibility of human history. Funnily enough, I am part of humanity too.

While we shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture, it’s just as important to focus on where we are. And I don’t mean as a world or as a country, though those are great things to consider as well. I mean as a community. The more individual stories we can hear, the better understanding we have of who we are as a people.

All of human history, as grand as it is, is at it’s core just the story of how one person’s life impacts other people’s lives.

We all have stories. All of our stories are connected. Every single person you see is just as human as you are.

It’s so easy to hear a statement and immediately judge the person who said it. Especially with social media, we see a ton of information all coming at us like bullets, and it’s easy to get angry and frustrated at everyone. But it’s important to slow down and take each individual not as an idea that you either agree or disagree with, but as a human being. A human being with flaws and also a lot of beautiful pieces.

A human being with a true story to tell, if someone will just take the time to listen to them.

We need to have real conversations with people. Dialogues, where we seek to understand each other, rather than tear each other down- where it’s okay to disagree, even bitterly, and still acknowledge that we are all human beings with an intrinsic value that nothing can diminish.

The stories, no matter how terrible they are, all matter. For better or for worse, they have made us who we are.

We need to remember that the stories are all around us, and that they are just as real as our own. We need the stories because they are how we connect with one another, and without connection, what are we?

Epilogue

I call these Story “Rambles” because I tend to…ramble. I don’t organize these posts like essays. I don’t have bullet points. I don’t have…a way to finish this sentence.

But my main point in writing this post is to say that everyone deserves for their story to be heard. Your story matters. The person next to you has a story that matters too. Be someone who listens. Be someone who seeks to understand the stories and where they come from.

The stories are everywhere, waiting to be heard.

41 thoughts on “People And Stories And Why We Need Them~ A Story Ramble

  1. When I was a kid, I always told my parents stories due to a wild imagination. Just never wrote those stories down. Wonder why it took until 2018 to write them down.

    Right now, my only ideas for stories are children’s stories. I actually started developing stories earlier than 2018. I had to develop and create the characters. Greatest Discovery- that idea was formed in eighth grade. Cattail Forest and Lizzy were inspired later.

    I am actually writing two of them: Cattail Forest is on its 5th draft while Lizzy the Lizard is on its 1st draft

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, it seems like when we’re kids the stories just kind of pour out of us? In general kids have such amazing imaginations and then they kind of ebb away…unless we make a conscious effort to bring them back.
      Children’s stories are some of my favorite kinds of stories. πŸ™‚

      Like

      1. Tale of the Cattail Forest and Greatest Discovery are middle grade books while Lizzy the Lizard is for preschoolers.

        At some point, I want to come up with an extensive world. Like Narnia or Middle Earth. Just don’t have an idea yet. Yes, Cattail Forest is all made up, but not extensive

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am thinking that maybe that the origins of the Fairy Frogs began in this extensive world.

        So far, I do have three species of Fairy Frogs I come up with:

        Obviously there are the artist Fairy Frogs
        Second- the healing Fairy Frogs
        Third- pretty much just regular Fairies

        What ALL Fairy Frogs have in common is the compassion, cleverness, and translucent wings

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I already fell in love with my Fairy Frogs- they are quite unique. If this idea of extensive world can work: it will have to happen a few years later. Still want to be able to include my preexisting Fairy Frogs

        Liked by 1 person

  2. On History: When I was a kid, we are taught about Great Historical Figures like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Martin Luther. (I was going to add Charles Dickens and Alexander Dumas because, well, they’re Great in the History of Authors.) And then college level history comes up, and then they tell you that, well, in reality, those people are humans, which means they have done things or held views that are either not morally right or are very questionable (sometimes by today’s standards, sometimes just morality of all time). And then the disillusionment starts, and then you find out that none of them are Superman.
    But I think greatness can be defined in a realistic way: the changes those people did make, the ideas they did hold that were revolutionary in a positive way for their era as well as for posterity. That’s Greatness.
    And of course we should remember them for everything they’ve done. And still applaud for their greatness. And learn from their mistakes and shortcomings.

    Logic goes a long way. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I remember earlier on learning the very simple versions of certain historical figures and thinking of them as perfect, and then later in high school learning about the more realistic, full picture of what happened and who these people were. In college I remember it leaning more on the side of their flaws, and losing sight of anything positive. I agree that it’s really important to acknowledge both the mistakes and the positive influences people in the past had on us.
      Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, dear Story Sponge, how beautiful this post is. It hit home in a pleasantly painful way, if that makes any sense at all. “It’s important to slow down and see each individual, not as an idea that you either agree or disagree with, but as a human being. A human being with flaws and also a lot of beautiful pieces.” Yes. Just…just yes.

    What you say about history is really great, too. I am a bit of a history nerd, and oversimplification of the past to the point where we tear down statues really bugs me. Revising the focus and tone of the narrative is one thing, but this goes beyond even changing the facts…it seems like there’s a movement to ERASE the facts. To forget what happened. To stop listening to the voices of our ancestors. I guess that’s what happens in a culture where we’ve stopped listening even to each other.

    Thank you for this fantastic ramble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment means a lot to me. Thank you so much for your thoughts, and I am so glad that I was able to impact you in a “pleasantly painful way” (yes, I understand what you mean).
      Erasing the facts is always a dangerous place to be in, and I find it concerning that we have gotten to this point. I want to make a conscious effort to remember the past, even if I strongly disagree with things that happened. Losing our history does not bode well for the future. We need to listen!
      I am truly grateful for your thoughts.

      Like

  4. This is an interesting discussion! I feel like the human brain naturally tends to ‘split’ things into black and white. So when we’re taught from an early age that something or someone is good and we find out that no, they actually did a lot of bad things, and then we’re tempted to say that they were ALL bad and we should throw them out altogether. Honestly, I think the way we teach history really isn’t very good. I’d like to see some school reforms.
    (Of course, having said all that, I always thought Thomas Jefferson sounded like a horrible man. Having a relationship with your slave is GROSS. Like…could she say no??)

    I think there is some merit to the idea that there were people in the time period who chose to do the right thing even though the culture around them told them not to, though. There were still people who used empathy and reason to come to the conclusion that people of color deserved to be treated well back then. But it is hard to be good when the culture doesn’t push you to be that way, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there is a lot to think about. I definitely don’t think that culture excuses anyone from behaving immorally, and I think we should commend people who were able to push past cultural norms to do what is right. I guess I just wanted to explore the idea that we have to consciously figure out what is moral and immoral, instead of just going along with culture and assuming it’s okay because everyone seems to think it is, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Ordinary people are capable of doing appalling things without really trying to, which doesn’t make them less appalling. For me, looking back at what people did in history is so sobering because of that concept. I want to make sure I am being deliberate in what I do.
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post! I love history– but, like you, I notice a few unfortunate trends in history-telling. On one hand, our historical figures were heroes, so that we are shocked when we learn they had human failings. On the other hand, our historical figures are judged according to standards outside of their own time and context, and we don’t expect to learn from them. We need these histories, in all their guts and glories. But I hope that the more stories are told, the more people will see where we come from, and where we are going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, I agree. It’s so important to see historical figures as human, not just a piece of a textbook to forget about. There is so much to be learned from history, and the more stories we can learn, the more discernment and wisdom we can have for the future.

      Like

  6. Ahhhh, this is so interesting :))
    I love your donut analogy. It reminds me of this book I read recently called Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis–he talked about how now the success of the American Revolution feels like a foregone conclusion, but at the time, nobody knew if it was going to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I find this stuff so fascinating.
      Thank you, it just sort of came out that way, I had no idea what I was doing. But it turned out quite nicely. πŸ™‚ Yeah, it really is weird to think about the fact that nobody knew if the American Revolution was going to work… There are so many things like that. We get so used to seeing things from our end of history.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. /This was so good/! I really enjoyed reading it!!! Stories are something that has kept me going, and I love hearing, reading, and watching them so much. (: Also, your doughnut analogy was truly impressive. -applauds-

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is so many good things packed into this one post, I don’t even know where to start with my thoughts.

    Sponge, this is one banger of a post. I honestly want to print off copies and go around handing them out to people I know. πŸ˜„ (really tho…)

    Listening with the intent to understand…how many terrible things could be avoided if more people stopped pointing fingers and accusing and making false judgements and instead just listened? I often find that I am quick to judge people by appearances or by something they said but when I listen to their story-really listen-I begin to realize that there is so much more to that person then what I first assumed.

    I love the point you made about how we judge people in history so harshly but do we really know how we would have responded?

    “We can’t disconnect from history. We are a part of it.” Wow…that line is both terrifying and inspiring. Sometimes I just wish that I could hunker down and let the world go on it’s way. Let the other people fight…let someone else be the change. It’s easier to just stay out of the messy things. It’s makes me think of all the people who stood by and allowed Hitler to murder millions. I judge them for not standing up, for not taking action…but evil things are still happening today and if I just stand by, I am as bad as they are. Honestly, this post made me uncomfortable. But in the best way possible, if you know what I mean.

    I really, really appreciate how you brought the post back to a more personal level. It’s fun sometimes to talk about the grand scheme of things and to discuss history and the big picture, but how can we make a difference in the world if we don’t start first at home?

    Thank you for sharing this, Sponge. It’s beautiful and powerful and so incredibly important. I needed to read this. ❀️❀️❀️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, Eden, your comment kind of blew me away. I am so that this post impacted you. Writing it impacted ME, which is kind of the beautiful mystery of writing. I kind of discovered things while writing it, as well as reminding me of things I knew already.
      Listening with the intent to understand sounds so great, but it’s so hard to do. I have been thinking a lot about that recently. I don’t think we do it as much as we think we do it.
      I definitely relate to wanting to just let the world go by while I hide away somewhere. If I just have my books and my food, I want to be a hobbit in the Shire who doesn’t have to worry about the big important things happening in the world. But when we look at history, like you said, the people who turned a blind eye to the injustices happening sometimes seem as awful as the people doing the injustices. It’s kind of terrifying.
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I really appreciate it, and I loved hearing what you had to say on this matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. (Firstly, are sponges just more eloquent than humans? Is that how you write such funny posts and then such a beautiful one as this one? I don’t buy that you’re human. I think you’re a story sponge and story sponges are unfairly gifted with eloquence.)

    I kind of needed to hear this. One gets so frustrated with people sometimes, and half the time it’s because one isn’t even trying to understand.
    I was thinking recently how one of the most vital functions of stories is empathy. We will never see anything from a point of view other than our own; we will never live any life but our own. We all have incredibly narrow vantage points, and through stories we can experience someone else’s point of view, someone else’s experience. Stories let us understand things we never would otherwise.
    (This is why I sometimes get really frustrated at people who seem to judge books solely by how relatable they are. I get that relating to a character is a special and valuable experience, but you don’t have to relate to EVERY character. Sometimes a character you don’t relate to is cool, because you gain a new appreciation for people different from yourself. I love Johnny Tremain not because I relate to him really at all, but because he’s so different from me and yet I can understand him and see things through his eyes…and I would never have had such understanding of or interest in someone so different from me without a story. It’s the same with many other stories and characters.)
    I think I’m rambling now, but THANK YOU for this. And for that “listen with the intent to understand” thing. THAT’S important. And harder than it sounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (Yes, story sponges totally have an unfair advantage in the eloquence department, you’ve guessed it. But seriously though, thanks for the compliment! Sponges still need encouragement. πŸ™‚ )
      YES. Empathy is a huge part of stories. They really are our one way to see the world from someone else’s perspective. That is so true.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. (Oops, I send that before I was finished…whatever.)
      Anyway, I get what you mean about people judging books based solely on whether or not the characters are relatable, but I know that for myself what I mean by that is more along the lines of the characters convincing me that they were human. I “relate” to characters that are NOTHING like me, and that used to confuse me until I realized it wasn’t really that I related to them in the sense that they were the same type of human as me, but more that they were human like me. The characters that I accuse (perhaps wrongly sometimes) of not being “relatable” are the ones that for some reason or other didn’t convince me of their humanness. They seemed false. That being said, I do think that we can focus too much on our own experience and then just write off characters who aren’t like us and lose the whole point of empathy in the process. I’m totally rambling too. now. πŸ˜‰
      You are most welcome! I am so pleased to hear that you liked this post. Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful comment!

      Like

      1. Yeah, that makes sense! I’m pretty sure I’ve used “relate” in that sense too. And not being convinced of a character’s humanness is totally valid. I know sometimes I’ve heard people only want to read books about protagonists of their gender? Or their specific place in society? Or their specific personal struggles? And I think that’s silly, and probably not very good for your soul either. But yes. Isn’t it so COOL that we CAN relate to people with whom about all we’ve got in common is our shared humanity? Seeing people we have nothing in common with as also human does not come as easily or naturally as we might think, at least in my experience. So it definitely is cool when a story does that.

        (Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful reply!)

        Liked by 1 person

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