It was the winding down part of the evening when all your guests have about gone and one or two stranglers remained to finish their drinks in the wee hours of the morning. I was in the kitchen cleaning up after a dinner party we hosted for some good friends who were in town. Emptying out the limes from our caipirinha glasses, I over heard Joel talking with one of our friends in the living room.
The guys were talking about God. What else do you talk about at 1 a.m. after a few good drinks and a delicious meal? Joel was telling our buddy about native American animal medicine and how he practices it as a mindfulness meditation. The both marveled at the connectedness of all things in the world. How thin the spiritual lines are drawn between all belief systems and the stories they share.
Our buddy is a musician and visual artist. He has studied art for most of his life in all of its variety and forms. He suggested that people who appreciate a beautiful painting or a song, love it and connect to it because of the story that it tells. I have never attributed my admiration for certain visual arts to the story that I recognized, but once it was said, I knew it was true. In fact, all of the pieces of art that I love or songs that I keep on my playlist tell a story that means something to me.
He suggested that all the forms we consider to be art are appreciated for their story. Then he added that the oldest form of human art is the art of story telling.
What is more human or more ancient than the art of story telling? Oral traditions were passed down for thousands of years, long before we had a written language. If you really think about it, the story is how we grow. Stories are how we learn and teach and define who we want to be. Our whole existence revolves around stories. The truths we keep, beliefs we share, the history we know, these are all stories. We define our very lives by the stories that we tell and the stories that we keep. We are living breathing stories.
Could everything we work towards and contribute to, do or believe come down to a story? I think it all can.
Think about the stories you tell. What do the stories you keep say about who you are? What do the stories you tell say about who you want to be?