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  • Writer's pictureFraser Murdoch


Updated: Apr 30, 2022

Written in December 2018.

Story is everything.

The human, social world, even now more than ever, is filled with stories. Verbal, written, reported, painted, sang, danced, filmed and edited. Stories are everywhere. However, what is story?

We might come to think that stories only exist in the most obvious of forms, such as in fairy tales, novels, plays, or movies. Yet, in the clutter of the human world and our minds (where there are incredible amounts of stories stored) let's simplify things a little.

What do we do as animals and beings as a whole? We breathe, we eat, we drink, we get rid of waste, we mate - we even sneeze, we cough, and we hiccup. But, we're not as simple as that are we? We have other functions in our body which I see as key to what goes on in our minds: our senses.

We as humans have those five senses we were told about as kids: we see, we hear, we feel by the touch, we taste and we can smell. Some other animals might have heightened or less heightened versions of these similar senses. However, we're not just our bodily functions. As animals, we also have brains, which process these sensations and as humans, we certainly have a heightened ability to process these senses.

Our brains are like a filter. The information we receive from our senses enters the mind, and there, the communication-related muscles of the brain make sense of that information. This is the input. But we don't just have input into our brains, we also naturally have outputs - once the information has been processed. This output is what I call story.

It's the gossip. It's the facts. It's the passions. It's the advice. It's the questions. It's the complaints. It's the writing. It's the painting. It's the dancing. It's the singing. It's the acting. It's the sport. It's the filmmaking. It's the meaning. It's the purpose. It's the communication. It's the language. It's the reality. It's the art. It's all the same thing. The output from our brains based on the input. The storytelling.

It's the reason that we may tell ourselves each day we're not good enough or our problems are too big that when someone lets us in on their imagination we forget about this momentarily. A new story has overwritten and overpowered other ones. It's survival of the fittest story. It's the reason why some people might want to take drugs to heighten that imagination.

On a more positive side, it's also the reason we create stories in our lives for our grandchildren.

We are told stories as children by those that were born before us, so that important information can move from generation to generation. However, this information is only input. As soon as a story enters some else's mind, it is a new story - and each person, and generation, can develop their own stories based on this information.

It's the reason, too, why you hate or love your job. Capitalism certainly doesn't help people do the thing they want to with their time: for you to do your thing. Money takes over, and what you spend your money and spare time on is your story, rather than the job itself. (Money is also a form of storytelling, where it goes tells its own story, and we are weaving that narrative by putting it there.) However, you may have the job you always truly wanted and you know that that is the case when you are happy doing it.

It's the reason also you've become sad or detached from life: the story you want to live is somewhere off in the distance and it means you don't engage in the stories around you: they're not your interests. However, it could be in your control to seek those interests out and surround yourself with them: to receive the stories that connect with you. Without engaging stories, we do really simply only have bodily functions and our brain drives all of those things too so it needs to be fed well and nurtured just like our bodies.

It might sound petty, but happiness is getting everything the way you want it. Telling your story the way you want it.

It's a survival mechanism we have evolved. We have done it for as long as we have lived. Other animals have strong communicative brain functions and we have utilised ours a lot. And, just because a dog barks and a bird tweets does not mean that they are unintelligent - we simply do not understand their language.

Not to let you down, but we search for meaning and purpose for our survival and may put that meaning and purpose onto bigger things and ideas: but this is perhaps a downfall of ours because as we struggle to answer those questions, it may be clear to see that they do not actually exist and it's just a muscle of ours flexing and exposing its non-existence, but we won't give in because we know no other way of existing and living ourselves.

It's also my opinion that by understanding this mental process we all have in common as animals and humans, we can truly empathise.

If we focus on understanding our inputs, we can best control our outputs. Understanding also, that these are the only things that we control. What we do with our mind and our body, each. Knowing we cannot control anyone else's mind or body.

In this case, we can no longer ask things like: "Why are you not doing what I told you? You just do what you want, don't you?" (obviously!) and "This person is a *&^%$£ - why did they do that?"

Simply, because anger comes from confusion. Anger is misunderstanding based on a lack of information. Having information which does not equate to a story - something without the full house of a beginning, a middle and an end. If we can admit that we do not possess the input of the other individual to fully understand their output, we may give people a little bit more slack and focus on our own inputs and outputs much better and tell our life stories the best we can.

So, to summarise, we have five senses and the communication part of the brain processes those things into narratives and meanings which we tell or express to others in various ways. It's everything we do other than our bodily functions and unconcious thoughts.

I hope that you enjoyed my story.

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