Why Stories Exist

Stories seem pointless. How can listening to a lie about someone who never existed, doing impossible things in places that also never existed, be of any use to anyone’s life? How does this behavior give us an evolutionary advantage?

Anyone who’s been forced to watch small children for a long time (like parents) know that kids learn by mimicry. Monkey see, and monkey will sure as hell do.

All of us learn by example.

My parents were both schoolteachers, and they always said there were three ways to teach:

  • Example
  • Example
  • Example

Stories are examples of how to live, which is why many of them require a protagonist we identify with, and that protagonist is up against forces that seem unassailable. Who doesn’t feel overwhelmed by life?

Stories exist to tell us how to live, and reflect the values of the culture. Most Western stories involve solving a problem by being clever, as opposed to being simply strong (see: David and Goliath, most fairy tales, nearly all movies, etc.).

What’s your perfect story? What is it that you need to learn, that you need an example of?

Being happy in the moment in mine. I worry way too much about the future, about where I should be.