The Power of Story
When you are transported to another world, that’s the power of story.
A bulldozer can push tons of dirt. A engine can catapult a rocket into the atmosphere. A single wave can rock a cruise ship. But a story has the power of transport like no other. It can bring you to another place. Like no plane, train or automobile, a well-told story brings you closer, pulls you in, puts you in the shoes of someone else. Just temporarily, but you’re there. You’re not where you were, you’re somewhere else. Physicists–and Star Trek fans–can’t pull this off. But a storyteller can.
What do these have in common: A man goes to a Chinese jail–for getting in a fight. A youth in south side Chicago opens up about just wanting someone to care about him. A reporter realizes that a good percentage of a town is on disability. They’re well-told stories.
The moon is full and over the rolling brown hills somewhere near El Dorado Hills in the eastern foothills of California. We just gassed up and switched drivers. The kids get a movie for the last hour and a half leg of the trip. We get a story. Tonight it’s This American Life. A story about a rough and tumble high school in Chicago. It’s riveting. But the power of story–a powerful story–is that it could be about anything. Anything at all. It’s the story that’s the draw. You care about the character. You want to know what’s going to happen next. You want to live their lives–or at least for now.
Is there something more attractive, more entertaining, more addictive than story? What else is there? There’s a story in everything. But it depends on how it’s told. When it’s told well, it’s a thing of beauty, it’s awe-inspiring, it’s the power of story.
You are right about how powerful storytelling can take you somewhere else for a while. I just experienced it tonight when I watched The Great Gatsby. That was hours ago but I’m still haunted by it.
It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It’s great to be transported somewhere else for a while. Even a little while.