Have you ever read an amazing book? It must have been one that was so well-written, you found yourself just swept away in it, imagining not only that you knew all the characters - the way they walked, the way they talked, the way they dressed - but imagining, perhaps, that you yourself were one of the characters - walking the same streets, talking in the same dialect, adventuring the same adventures.
Or have you ever seen an incredible movie? The stagery, the scenery, the all-encompassing work of setting must have swept you away to another world entirely, if only for a short while. You walk away feeling like you've actually visited those places, those times, those people. You walk away with vivid memories of what it's like to have been right there, even though "right there" may have, in fact, been nothing more than "right here" - a seat on the sofa, a chair in the theater.
Or maybe it's a television show. Maybe you feel like you've solved crimes with the BAU, like you've had dinner with the Reagans, like you've lived in the same building as Monica, Joey, Chandler, and a host of other friends.
There's something about a good book or a good movie or even a good television show that just captivates us. It's so easy for us to get lost in the narratives. It's so easy for us, even though we never leave "right here," to feel like we are "right there." And generally, when that happens, we can't stop talking about it.
Nor do we get tired of hearing about it.
It's a strange thing, isn't it? We can all gather around in our little groups and talk about these books, movies, and television shows seemingly forever. We invest our time in discovering all the little nuances that make them work. We willingly allow ourselves to relive them again and again and again, as if, should we talk about them enough, we would never have to leave Narnia.
But then someone tells us a story, a real story, and somehow, it can't end quickly enough. Or they tell us the same story again and again, and we're bored, then irritated. How many times do I have to hear about your grandmother's cancer? How many times do I have to hear about your son's soccer game? How many times do I have to hear about....you fill in the blank. We'll accompany Frodo on all of his journeys, but when it comes to Fred next door, well....
What's wrong with us?
Can you imagine what life would be like if we would let ourselves get as wrapped up in each other's stories as we do in the ones on our pages and screens? What if our own neighborhoods, our own communities, were the places we visited again and again and again? What if our own neighbors, our friends, our families were the characters whose lives were fleshed out before us? What if we lived, feeling like we were walking the same walk as they are, talking the same talk, dressing in the same dress. What if we gathered together and told our stories over and over and over again and they never got old?
What if, instead of talking about Pandora, we were talking about Plainsville? What if, instead of the modern family, we were talking about our modern families? What if, instead of talking about Star Wars, we were looking star-ward? What if the stories that are all around us, the stories we are actually living, became the stories of our generation? What if, instead of talking about the latest epic adventure of our fantastical friends, we started talking about the epic adventures our real friends are on - these little things called "lives"?
What if we let ourselves get lost in the pages, the stages, and the screens that are living and breathing and still being written right before our very eyes? What if we were captivated by each other?
It's not that we don't know how to do it. We're great at engaging in story. We do it all the time. So let's start doing it with stories that matter: our stories.