We Are Created to Tell Stories
There are close to one million books published in the USA every year. One million. This is a staggering number. Many of these books are self-published. Many are not good. I read a few of them myself, the good ones and the bad ones. But lately, I have been thinking about how many incredible works of literature I’ve missed. In the early years of my career when I was focused on succeeding and creating a life for myself and my family, I had no time to read. I read perhaps one to two books each month. I traveled for work a lot, and I was always moving, and I was also going back to school to finish my master’s degree. Children came soon after and my reading time was limited further. I feel that I missed so many good books, and now there is no time to catch up.
Older I am though I realize that I just scheduled my time poorly. I liked to sleep more than I do now. Actually, I COULD sleep more than I can now. I watched more movies and TV dramas than I do now and I felt I should have more fun then, so we went out, often. I prefer quiet life these days. I do have energy and stamina, but somehow there is more mystery and buoyancy on the nights I spend on my deck overlooking the lush woods behind my house with a glass of wine than in dinners, or events where people go to forget about their everyday life. There is so much beauty in the world that I want to absorb it all, and there are so many books I wish I could soak up. How can I even begin to catch up?
People like to share stories. Anthropologists tell us that this is how humans make sense of the world around us and how we always feel the urge to share the meaning of our existence with other people close to us. This wired article does an excellent job of explaining the phenomenon. https://www.wired.com/2011/03/why-do-we-tell-stories/
We crave stories; we crave the meaning and books are exactly that, a way to share a story with more than just your immediate audience. Books are a way to embellish a feeling or a desire of a creative person. Nowadays we have better means to share our stories, such as this blog for example. The inevitable consequence is that the book sales are declining, not because people don’t like to share stories anymore, but because it is easier to do so through other means of distribution.
But, to me, there is something so magical about a long exploratory story contained in a book, something you cannot get from a short blog post or a You Tube video. Videos and short posts have an immediate but very short-lived impact on an observer or a reader. Books, however, have a long-term effect. And older I am more I crave the meaning. I realized I missed so many stories when I was younger, but I was focused on survival, now as my focus shifts to finding the beauty in everything, nature, people around me, I crave books because they tell human stories of resilience.
So, the only question I have left is how do I make up the time?