Tuesday, February 27, 2007


After watching the Oscars the other night, I got to thinking about the stories we take in and the ones we tell and what they mean to us. Whether we think about it or not, stories are really the fabric of our lives. Because no matter what our background is, we eat, breathe, sleep and dream them every day. We live and relive and rehearse our lives through the medium of story. We practice for the big game, the big interview, the big date, running our lines over and over in our mind. And then after we actually live through it, we replay it to ourselves and rewrite sequences, saying the things we said and the things we wished we'd said. And the things we wished we didn't say.

Some stories we share with our family, friends and even strangers. And each time we share it, it sort of gets better because we get better at telling it. We cut and paste, embellish and highlight what’s dramatic and downplay what’s not. We shift time to heighten the tension, each time re-creating ourselves and the world as we interpret and desire it to be. And we'll forgive ourselves and each other if the facts aren't all 100% straight because really it’s all about what the story means to us and what we want to say with it.

The shaping and retelling of stories is an integral part of our human consciousness and pretty much always has been. Whether we've shared by the firelight, the water cooler, at the cinema, the theatre, or the dinner table, our lives are explored through this universal form of beginning, middle and end. Desire, conflict, climax and resolution. Rinse and repeat. It's one of the universal human rituals.

And an event like the Oscars is meant to showcase great stories and the people who tell them. When we watch the awards, we're rooting for the ones who've really spoken to us. And we keep coming back for more, despite the fact that so much of what we see up there on screen---and stage and page---so much of it is junk food for the mind & soul. Tasty and titillating to the senses, but poisonous once it’s taken in. Genetically modified entertainment. So why do we keep coming back? What are we looking for? How does the modern story contribute to our popular consciousness? And how can it raise it even higher?