Shape Shifting Storytelling?

“There is no greater power on this earth than story.”
— Libba Bray

Stories are medicine. They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything – we need only listen.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Stories hold a lot of power. They impact our lives especially in children’s minds at a young age. If you take a good look at most children stories they actually take away the magic. There is a villain, a hero, “bad” and “good.”  Some animals are represented as good and others as something to be feared. Just think of little red riding hood and the big bad wolf! In order to be a storyline evil exists. It is always a given, a common theme. Does it need to be so? Must there always be a battle so that “good” can overcome the “bad?” Can stories not have meaning otherwise?

“Stories give color to black and white information.”
— Todd Stocker

“If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story.”
 -Annette Simmons

Can the meaning simply not be to have fun? To be happy? To experience and to have adventures?

The most famous stories that are being read to children are filled with a negative perspective of the world; nothing to look forward to but something to be afraid of. The world is being portrayed as a very scary place. Think about it. Snow white’s worthiness lies in her external beauty and the evil queen wants to punish her because she is the prettiest of all. Teaching competiveness, jealousy, and treachery among women. How about if the queen had simply been an encouraging figure that empowered Snow White to look at the beauty within? Or even embrace her physical beauty as something to be proud of?  Women fairy tale characters suffer until a prince comes along to save them, otherwise they are helpless. Or think of Bambi where his mother gets shot and has to be on his own.

Why must the characters in stories be unhappy in order to eventually find true happiness? Can it not be a win win situation for both? Is this dichotomy necessary?

The stories teach us that we cannot exist unless there is a problem. So what do we do? We create problems, obstacles we must overcome, in our lives. This is the cross, the good person has to bear. Is the bad person not the one that wants to have fun?  Hhhhmmm….did you ever think of that? Why is the evil one always without struggles? Power and freedom and doing what we want means you are the villain. The hero is the everyday hardworking, struggling character.

“The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind.”
— Vera Nazarian

Did you know that we can exist without these problems, difficulties, and struggles? We have come to believe that in order to be happy we have to suffer, we are not worthy of joy otherwise. The more we have to fight for our life the better person we are, the worthier we are of true happiness, because we have been through so much. Happiness and love is received and proven through these hardships. Not everyone is happy so we all need to be unhappy to fit in. So let us all be miserable and feel comfort together!  Children’s stories, movies, books, advertisements, it is all there. Do we really need this? Can we not all be happy together?

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”
— Terry Pratchett

“Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.”
 -Jonathan Gottschall

How many times have you heard “well if it was all perfect how boring would that be?” I for one have heard it all my life from others and thought “boring???” “How could a peaceful, loving, caring world be boring?” Is it maybe that we have learned that this is the case? That there needs to be adrenaline, violence, and drama? Have you ever seen a movie where everything is happy and rosy? Nope, apparently it would be “boring.” Something needs to be overcome. Do you see what we have done? And actually how easy it would be to switch that around and create the opposite or something different? How much potential and possibility we have in the grasp of our hands? How amazing is that? Maybe “fantasy” is what we have created and living in the world right now.  Maybe it’s all fantasy! So what if we were to mold it into the shape we choose?  What if we began to rewrite the stories, movie scripts, novels, our lives, and the world? Everyone can truly live their life. Life has a lot of opportunities, and there are a lot of choices and we can create a lot of choices that do not “exist.”

“The telling and hearing of stories is a bonding ritual that breaks through illusions of separateness and activates a deep sense of our collective interdependence.”
— Annette Simmons

I write children stories. With them I would like to demonstrate that something else does actually exist. Everything is possible, everything is magical! The stories can be amazing, captivating, that make you want to read more and more without there being misery, problems, and hardship. Of course there are many other children stories, movies, books etc. mine are not the only ones but it is not the majority. Let’s change that! What if we could change that? I am not saying that what we have now is wrong but simply that there are other possibilities available if we choose it. Let us realize, and believe that we can have the life we wish, we imagine, we long for. We can be anything we want, have everything we want, simply by choosing it.

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again and what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are?
We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything.
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
– Henry David Thoreau

What if we began speaking like this? Not only to children but to everyone and to ourselves? What if we recreated the stories of our lives?

“The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story.”
— Michael Margolis


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