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Our own stories

December 10, 2008

I’ve been thinking, lately, about the way we tell our own stories.  We all have stories and, really, the bulk of our interaction revolves around telling them.  Particularly interaction that is purely social and has no immediate function.  When we talk about what we like, we often frame it in a story.

But, at some point, does the line between experience and story get blurred?  Does our desire to have narrative sometimes frame the way we perceive events? And do we remember things as they were, or within the narrative framework we’ve invented around them?

Because this is about stories, I’m going to frame my comments within my own experience.  In times past, I’ve been so eager to find a pattern, as story, some meaning in events that I have arbitrarily assigned importance to some things over others in order to make them fit my tale. Rather than assessing encounters and experiences on their own merit, I’ve slotted them into a narrative framework I had already created.  Sure, it was a sort of moving framework, which could be changed when necessary, but still, events were assessed differently had I not been attempting to fit them into a logical, coherent story.

And then there’s the telling of stories, the way we recount these tales in conversation.  We neccessarily adapt them for circumstances, in a way re-writing our own history every time we do so.  And there are times when we’ve told our own story so often that we are, quite simply, tired of it.  So we retire it.  That part of our life, which was once important, gets filed away for future reference.  We find new stories to tell.  Sometimes, we add to old stories, but mostly, we just keep finding stories.

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