Are we watching the stories of others or living our own?

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There comes a time for us all to switch off the TV, put down the novel, and head out the front door, and go live out our own story

The world now consumes films, novels, theatre, and television in such quantities and with such ravenous hunger that the story arts have become humanity’s prime source of inspiration, as it seeks to order chaos and gain insight into life. Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the patterns of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience. In the words of playwright Jean Anouilh, “Fiction gives life its form.”—Robert McKee, Story

We all live off stories. It’s how we make sense of the world. We like to think we’re rational beings, but first and foremost we are narrative beings.

Story is how we discover our place in the world.

Story is how we understand what’s going on in the world.

Story is how we make sense of lives.

This is why we consume films and books and TV shows with such ‘ravenous hunger’.

We may not realise it, but in these stories, we are trying to find a narrative for our own life.

There’s a danger though. We can get so caught up in watching the stories of others that, instead of using them to give our life its form, we end up merely vicariously living our life through the stories of others. And we have no story of our own.

Stories are there to inspire us. They’re meant to inspire us to live out our own stories.

It may not look remotely like the story in the novel or the hit TV show, but we all have our own story to live and to tell through our lives.

And in the same way that the story in a film is meant to inspire us, so too the story of our lives is meant to inspire others.

That’s why there comes a time for us all to switch off the TV, put down the novel, and head out the front door, and go live out our own story.

For our own sake. And for the benefit of others.

Photo: Forrest Cavale

What MUST I write?

When we end up doing the very thing we despise