September 5th, 2022
When I saw the State Fair water tower on the horizon this year, the nostalgia hit me harder than normal. Instead of a general flavor, nostalgia tends to get colored by people whose loss feels recent, like yesterday, even though they’ve been gone, say, nearly two years.
It got me thinking about stories, both fictional and real.
My mom and I watched a lot of things together when I was growing up. The thing that strikes me when I think about it now is that I wasn’t critical of anything.
It was just a story being told.
And I wondered:
What if stories aren’t “good” or “bad”? What if they’re all just stories?
It’s a radical idea, especially in the age of the internet, where everyone has an opinion on literally everything, including other people’s opinions.
When you’re young, before the world teaches you how to be critical and cynical, you only have one decision to make when it comes to stories: whether or not they are for you.
If they’re not, you simply don’t return. If they are, you adore them, you cherish them, you live in them; you seek out plots and characters and worlds like them, and storytellers who tell stories like the ones that spoke so deeply to you.
But they’re not good or bad.
They’re for you, or not.
There are a lot of old storytellers who tell other storytellers to watch their ego; once you think you’re good at what you do, you’re dead in the water.
I understand that to a degree; I believe all humans should forever be open to learning and growing, and that takes a level of humility.
But it takes ego to create, and especially to share.
A storyteller should be bold in telling their story, not because it will help them tell a good story, but because no matter how they tell it, someone will think it’s bad.
It takes an ego to know yourself, know your voice, and to use that voice, unapologetically.
And it takes no ego to simply enjoy or leave a story, no further action necessary.