Telling Stories

On my way to Marin, today, for a talk about storytelling. Then, down to the Esalen Institute to do a little workshop on Sabbath and Torah – basically a ‘time off’ where people read, interpret, and continue their collective story.

At least that’s the way I’ve been seeing it.

What I’ve been so very consumed with over these past few years – really from Playing the Future and Coercion right on through to my novel Exit Strategy and now the book on Judaism – is our access, as autonomous and creative people, to the stories we use to understand our lives.

I used to balk at the entire notion of using stories or mythology to process our experience of the world. I thought the real answer was to release oneself from these stories, altogether, and get down to the “real thing.” But now, I suppose I’ve surrendered to the idea that human beings, at least in our present state of evolution and ego-identification, need stories. We can’t relate to existence, or one another, without them. We need to use metaphors – maps – or we’d be lost.

That’s all fine, for the timebeing. But I’ll only submit to the use of maps if I know how they’re being drawn. I’ll only use stories if I know who is writing them, and why. More importantly, I want to be one of the people writing them, too. We all should be – at least all of us who want to be adults. Or autonomous.

That’s the real difference, as I see it, between autonomous and automatic living. In the former, you participate in the writing of the story; in the latter, you live according the pre-ordained script. The former might seem more challenging, but it really isn’t.

So, my work – especially experiments like Exit Strategy, is meant to give people a taste of participating in the story rather than simply listening to it. I think the process of learning to participate takes place in three main stages.

First, we learn to deconstruct the content of the story. (Literary analysis.)

Second, we demystify the technology or medium through which the story is transmitted. (Media literacy.)

Third, we dare to participate as active creators in the story’s continuation.

So, if you look back at my books and talks, or even this Blog, this is all I’ve been saying, in one way or another. From my deconstruction of the Middle East story to my advice to writers. (More of that coming, soon.)

I suppose I’ll tell this little story again, in one way or another, tonight.