CHAPTER12LISTEN

A story comes alive in the imagination of its listener. A life becomes real once it is narrated. Without a story, you would dart from moment-to-moment, embracing pleasure and fleeing hardship as each stimulus went in and out of focus. Without examination and interpretation, life reduces to mere biology.

Your experience of reality is a never-ending story. Stories give you a place in the world and a place in time. Stories are how you remember the past and expect the future. Every moment, a story organizes your life by accounting for all that you see and all that you cannot see but truly believe.

Information has not done its job until it impacts the story running in a person's mind. Only then has information informed. If we understand story, then we can help data come alive in a person's mind too. So let us take a critical look at the (sometimes irrational) art of storytelling.

The more you know, the better you can navigate the obstacles of life. But there is a natural limit to the knowledge one can learn from their own experience. We each get only one lifetime, and that makes time precious. Stories give access to the accumulated knowledge our ancestors spent their whole lives acquiring. We get to benefit at a bargain price. That is the story of the last 5,000 years of civilization.

Stories help us see what could be. Fiction is like a laboratory for life. It helps us develop alternatives and store solutions for what might happen. Stories teach us how to interact ...

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