Once upon a time, I boarded something that went somewhere to meet someone.
Once upon a time, I boarded a boat that went straight home to be alone.
Once upon a time in a distant place much further than outer space, I boarded a train that went to Spain because I wanted to feel the rain upon the plain.
Once upon a time in the middle of the sea with waves rolling and winds blowing, I boarded a bottle that went full throttle like a fighter jet flies on its way into battle, and I rode it along singing my favorite song to go into the Congo where I met Aristotle.
And once upon THIS time when I met him there, I asked him,
‘Is memory subjective?’
‘And are stories memories?’
But his answer did not come right away.
In fact, it only came once I was again aboard a train.
And it came in a row, like ducklings walking home.
Or like the many links upon a chain, which are connected but separate.
And while I was once again on this train, busy writing, reflecting and remembering the stories I have lived and the stories of others around me.
It was here I asked myself again,
‘why are stories so important?’
I have often found myself questioning, what are the necessity of things?
And why need stories within a life that is so busy.
Stories take time.
They’re not tangible.
And they don’t always make sense.
So why do we continue to embrace them?
Then the first link came.
I have seen first-hand that within chaos, stories can create a calm.
And stories have the power to captivate and enrapture people into a life different than their own.
For years, stories have been a space for us to reflect on this strange thing called life.
It is something that has been in our cultures since the beginning of time.
It’s how we define and understand who we are.
And it’s how we interact and connect with one another.
We tell stories about how our day was, memories from years past, or of people we’ve never known or met.
Everything we have and live is a story.
Each action we take or decision we make are words being written on another page.
Stories come in all shapes, forms, styles and sizes.
In the coca-cola bottle, the Bach Sonata, and the Jay-Z ballad.
In the earrings I choose to wear, the way I choose to walk, and the job I choose to take.
In the person sitting next to me on this train.
Just this morning, Aristotle gave me another link.
That to remember is to receive an imprint from an experience one has lived.
And each imprint is also influenced by the stamps already upon one’s skin.
Precisely for this reason, a story never has just one plot.
It has a many different versions created by the many different prints through which people read.
So, it’s very likely that when one person sees a Coca-Cola bottle, another person sees a microphone.
Or as one person boards a moving train, another person gets off and again they see the world in different ways.
A story is not a concrete thing, but an abstract entity.
Influenced by each individual’s personal story.
And by the chapter they are on at each precise moment.
And yet here is another link…
while everyone is moving in their own direction and in their own timing, they are still searching for meeting points in between.
A place they can connect and communicate.
An interaction with the train station in Munich, a smile with another passenger through the glass window on the other track, a short conversation before one runs off to their next destination.
These are stories.
Only preserved within the minds of those who have experienced them and those to which they have been told.
Riding a bottle full throttle on the way into the Congo.
They’re a place where you can connect with realities not tangible in the present life.
Where you can understand and empathize with other people’s lives.
Of places so distant and foreign you cannot fully imagine, yet still you find a connection within your own nervous system.
What I think Aristotle was trying to say, after the boat ride home, my visit to Spain and a flight into the Congo, was….
Stories let us digest both the good and the bad.
Stories help us to understand and connect.
To grieve, rejoice, and celebrate.
Within stories there is hope and the opportunity to be a child again,
with deep excitement for what might come next.
Because one never knows what comes on the following page.
Or in the next book.
Or on the other train.
And so the story of life begins each day…
Once upon a time, I boarded a train that went a long, long way to see what came.