The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Respecting the Stories That Shape Our Lives

Stories make our lives much more powerful. This was proven recently on two separate radios hows: Snap Judgment and Radio Lab. In the Radio Lab episode, the pain felt from gunshot wounds was different depending if the individual was shot on the battlefield or in civilian life. On the battlefield, at the moment of wounding, the brain ran out a narrative that made the fallen soldier a potential hero, someone who would recover and come home to family and friends, to parades and medals. That individual felt less pain from the resultant wounds and required less morphine than his civilian counterpart. When the civilian at home was wounded, perhaps by a robbery gone wrong, the brain immediately spun out a different scenario, filled with lost hours from work, high expenses for hospitalization, potentially losing a job, and all the stress and worry that went with it. That civilian felt a great deal more pain, based on the story spun out in his or her mind.

On Snap Judgment, Glynn Washington was visiting with a tribal healer. This individual was brought a patient in agony, carried by his friends, who plead for a healing. The healer went through all the rituals, including pulling various objects out of the man's flesh, including screws or nails. After the healing was complete, the sick man arose, there were smiles all around, and he headed for home with his friends, cured. Afterwards, Glynn related how he asked this healing about the slight of hand he had used to create the illusion that he had pulled these objects from the man's body. Glynn basically said the healer had fooled him. The healer frowned deeply and told Glynn, "You never take another person's story from him." This individual came for a healing and he received the story he needed.

In this day and age, it might serve us all better if we stopped trying to refute each other's stories and instead respected them. From these radio stories, the truth of the matter is that stories are powerful for us all. We need them enough that our brains on an almost subconscious level will spin stories for us that we need when we need them, without our active involvement. That is a survival skill. We should honor that rather than fighting over whose story is correct and whose isn't. We all need our stories to survive (except for those stories created by sick/injured minds that spin dangerous tales, dangerous for the owner of the mind or for those around them). We should be respectful of those stories. We might just find we can learn a great deal from all of our stories if we listen instead of argue. 

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