Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog: Why do Stories exist?

Today it's my turn to tackle this week's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog on stories.

The question comes from Danyelle Leafty. She asks, "There have been stories in every culture and time period. Why?"

I could get all anthropological on you. You know, how we're all social creatures and stories are a means of communication...but Laura did a better job than I could on her post last week!

But it something occurred to me as I pondered this subject.

I think stories are about experiencing a kind of immortality.

I'm not going to get all Twilight on ya, I promise. But look. When it comes down to it, we've got one life to live in a body with a fixed expiration date.

Stories enable us to experience life outside ourselves, to transcend what we are and where we are. We can know what it feels like to be a yak herder in Mongolia, a witch, an alien, a girl in a red hood bringing some food to her Grammie.

From the dawn of time, people can't help but be curious about other lives and circumstances. In a way, it's about experiencing more than the single life to which you were born.

Living a thousand or more lives. It's a kind of immortality--of sorts.

How about you? Why do you think stories are part of our past, present, and future?

And if you missed it, please check out Laura Diamond's post last week. Stay tuned for Danyelle's next week!


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love your answer, Lydia.

They help us learn about who we are in an entertaining way. More so than any other form of media, imo.

Laura Pauling said...

I'm going to go really simple and just say it's a part of human nature; it's fun; it records history...I think there are many reasons!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great answer, Lydia.

From my thesis research on Vampires in folklore I read that lots of stories were disguised warnings for children. Only, years later, The Grim Brothers etc changed the end.
I think stories now help to record the changes in society. Different times, places, ideas.
And some are just plain fun.

Terri Tiffany said...

Because of who we are. Stores have always provided a way to share.

Jennee said...

I've never really thought about the question and I like your answer. I know I'll probably never help solve a murder, but with the help of fiction, I could be a freakin' detective!

The Red Angel said...

Immortality is a good reason. Stories do indeed keep a record of human nature and society norms and ideas.

I think stories give us something to hold on to and believe in when reality is not so kind to us. They also lets us experience things that we might never in real life.

Also, they are pure enjoyment! :)


Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss lydia! stories got lots of reasons for being there. some are just for fun and making people happy and being social some are for spiritual stuff some are for history and some are for just pretend. i like the pretend stuff cause right at this minute i could go off and be that yak herder in mongolia or i could go swim with the dolphins in the sea.
...smiles from lenny

MT said...

That's an excellent way to look at it. We do care about other people's lives and the things they experience. It's enriching to look at the world through different eyes with the help of a story. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Great answer. I think stories probably evolved from passing down family history to ways to keep others out of danger to keeping the kids in line.

Danyelle said...

Ha! I love this! I agree. I love slipping into a character's skin where I can have interesting things happen to "me" without all the pain and suffering. :) (That and magic is always fun. >:))

Francine said...


Great post!

Answer: because stories stretch our imaginations, because as children we loved to be scared and for every story to have a happy ending, because once we discovered books new worlds opened our minds to deeper feelings and roads well-travelled and that not every story has a happy ending, because the future is a mystery and we cannot know its ending!


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wonderful post, Lydia! Stories tell our wishes, dreams, and or nightmares for our past, present and future. And of course some stories tell what really happened. :)

Jai Joshi said...

I agree with you that it's about experiencing more of life.

I also think that it's about understanding life and more importantly it's about understanding ourselves and our purpose. Through stories we can see the universality of life and why we are all here scratching in the earth, trying to live on.


Holly Ruggiero said...

I enjoyed your answer. Stories capture so much of society of the times.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Stories are also used to pass on history.

LeishaMaw said...

I love the Lives of Lydia! And I also loved you post. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Ooh, I like this answer. Very insightful. I think people like to listen to stories because it makes them realize that their life is pretty darn good.

lbdiamond said...

Lol! Loved the pic/art!

"I could get all anthropological on you. You know, how we're all social creatures and stories are a means of communication, etc."

Good thing I covered that last week, lol!! ;)-

Nice post, Lydia!

Krispy said...

Oh, I like your take on this. So true! Stories are also an easy way of taking a vacation without actually having to GO anywhere. :)

The Words Crafter said...

I think you summed it up pretty well.

Stories are dreams and imaginings....and so many of them have become realities in our world-the wheel, the plane, the computer...when are we going to live like the Jetsons?

Lydia Kang said...

You stole my thunder! What else was I to do?

DL Hammons said...

Lydia Red Riding Hood ???

Now that's a classic waiting to be written!! :)

Connie Arnold said...

Great post, Lydia, I like what you said! Stories help us to know what happened before, to share with each other our experiences, thoughts, emotions, feelings now and to express our dreams and wishes for the future.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Before light, before fire, darkness reigned over man. Language was the first spark that pushed that fearsome enemy back for us.

Stories were the fires we held inside our hearts and minds to keep the darkness at bay. They explained the unexplainable, making it something manageable, something less to be feared because of that.

When fear and hunger stalked us in pre-history, myths told us that heroes existed, that they even challenged the gods. Maybe we could, too.

Maybe we could even find the golden path which led to safety, peace, and love.

Those dreams, those dreads wove threads into our collective unconscious, creating archtypes which, when spoken or read, strike stirring chords within us.

That is why we read stories to this very day. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. It meant a lot.


Lydia Kang said...

Wow Roland! What a wonderful comment, so beautifully written!

I've loved reading everyone's responses about how the questions strikes everyone a little differently. Hooray for stories, in the past, present, and future!

Clarissa Draper said...

I think you're right. It's a way to live after we've died. Also, we can pass down history and hopefully prevent people from making the same mistakes.


A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Wow. Great thinking here! I love that you say "stories are about experiencing a kind of immortality." The thing about all our differences is that we can all relate with someone else no matter how different their story is---which is amazing to me--because those who came before us or experienced something before us can enlighten us with the past. In that way we feel connected to them. They live on through us. We are all connected by experience whether or not we fall or rise, etc. I have to agree that it is a plus to have imagination implemented into the story and all the extras that come with great writing/storytelling. Some stories ARE fun as others have mentioned, but they all have a history, memory, or reason behind the telling of them.

Slamdunk said...

Excellent answer Lydia.

I can't top yours, but I think stories exist as a healthy outlet for our imaginations and creativity--they can help us expand our ideas and talents..

Anonymous said...
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Rachna Chhabria said...

Loved your post. We read stories for several reasons, to acquaint ourselves with other cultures, to get into the skin of other characters, to visit times past and future. We write stories for the same reasons.

Shall I start penning Lydia and the Chocolate Factory?

Alexandra Crocodile said...

Wow, that was really deep! Lovely post, Lydia. I think some stories are good for escaping the mundane everyday life. Some stories are good for learning about other cultures etc. Really, stories give us a sense of something that's familiar, but at the same time very distant.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Nice post! I loved reading the comments too. Clearly we are all writing here for a reason!

Suzy Turner said...

Wow... you've really got everybody's imaginations going here. This is such a great post... I think the stories have been in our lives for so long primarily for entertainment, for pure escapism. Life would do too grim without them!
Thanks for following my blog, btw!

Theresa Milstein said...

I think stories are how cultures pass on their life lessons. They not only reflect how they were and how they are, but how they want to be in the future.

If given a choice, I'd pick: A Great and Terrible Lydia.

Sounds fierce!

Phoenix said...

No Twilight? Damn, I was hoping for some sparkling... :)

Stories really started as a way to teach - teach culture, teach religion, teach morals. Jesus told stories; Native Americans told stories; the ancient Greeks told stories; all trying to explain what was going on in the universe, around them, and inside them spiritually and ethically. Even the church tried telling stories, before they realized that people liked the stories better than the morals, and that's how theater was born.

Humans are such natural story tellers. It is the easiest thing to do in the world - tell a story. Tell any story, about anything, anywhere, any time, any place.

And we are instantly transported. :)

Charli Mac said...

"When it comes down to it, we've got one life to live in a body with a fixed expiration date."

Whoa. When you put it that way...

Lots of my parts seem to be slowly expiring. I wish I could ut them in the back of the fridge to make them last longer.

Love Lydia Red Riding Hood. Would so read that, sounds like a dystopic YA Fantasy....

Jolene Perry said...

I love stories. I love hearing them, reading them, writing them. It's fun to live another person's life through writing. I hope to do it for a long time.

Catherine Denton said...

"kind of immortality" I like that thought! For me it's the adventure of something I've never experienced.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
notesfromnadir said...


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