“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” Madeleine L’Engle

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Joan Didion

In third grade I decided that writing stories might make me live forever, or at least to 120. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, but I think that is a little slice of the truth.

I remember:

  • Dad’s story about Granddaddy getting the family car (a 1930s Ford Model A) stuck in the mud overnight somewhere between Louisiana and Texas in a snowstorm.
  • Mom’s stories of her father driving her and her friends around Arcadia, Louisiana in one of the first automobiles in that part of the country.
  • My children telling stories of their misadventures in school.
  • Exactly where I was and what I was doing on Friday, November 22, 1963.

Come to think of it – just about everything I remember is a story of sorts.

So why tell stories?

How could we not?

  • Without stories we’d wander only in the present, batted around by the stuff that happens around us.
  • Without stories we wouldn’t have a past. Like a kite without a tail, spinning around and around in circles.
  • Without stories we’d have no idea of a future to move toward. Like a car in the dark without headlights.
  • Without stories we couldn’t look back and laugh at the way we were in the past, or the difficult things we lived through.

Sharing our stories, layer upon layer, gives the human race a past, a future, and brings greater meaning to our individual lives.

Why do you tell stories?

One thought on “WHY TELL STORIES?

  1. I’m a story – teller of sorts, although not many of my stories are written down. More and more i see the value for my undergraduate students by them hearing of my experiences. I’ve quit being embarrassed and shy, and I don’t spend too much time worrying about what I said afterward. I teach a class that is a critique of science, and some of what we talk about is barriers to women and other underrepresented groups in science education and careers. I have plenty of personal stories to tell, since I have lived in this white male dominated academic arena for many years. Recently, as my co-teachers and i were introducing ourselves, i found myself saying, “I’m the story-teller, and you will hear a lot of those from me this semester.” I’ve been doing this for a while, but I’m just recently seeing myself as a story-teller. Final thought: the only sermons I really remember, out of hundreds and hundreds, maybe thousands, are the ones that told a story.


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