“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” ~ Roger C. Schank, Cognitive Scientist
Ever since I started my Story-Power podcast, I’ve been trying to put my finger on the ultimate reason I love stories so much. I’ve talked with several guests about how we humans tell ourselves stories about what’s going on in our lives. Most of the time the stories aren’t true. If that’s the case, why do we tell them to ourselves? And why do we read, watch, and tell each other stories in the first place?
Over the last few years, world events have pointed out how detrimental telling untrue stories can be. There have been so many tragic events that I can’t keep up with them. So what do we do about that? How do we combat the fear, the hatred, and the power grabbing stories that are in the news every day?
My teaching buddy, Dave Dahl, always asks our acting students, “Where is the Love?” in their monologue, or scene. It’s something one of his favorite playwrights, or friends says when they are working on a play. He asks it no matter what play he’s working on. Where is the love? The first time he asked our students that question, my heart filled with love and appreciation for him. That’s the perfect question to ask ourselves in any given situation.
That quote goes along perfectly with A Course in Miracles, a spiritual system that has been around for maybe 40 years. The exercises ask the student to consider that the way we were taught to see the world is wrong. What we think of as truth, isn’t. The one thing I take away every year as I do the lessons is my favorite quote, “Only love is real”. Everything else is a construct of our minds. So, when I’m confronted with difficult situations, or tragic things happening in the world, or even when I’m consuming a story with lots of violence and hatred in it, I look for the love in the story.
It’s hard to find the love sometimes. But there are those heart opening stories where forgiveness happens in the midst of some horrific crime. Even in the midst of war, we can find love. Think of stories like Schindler’s List. There are lots of real life stories like that to be found if you look for them. Some of them are being reported right now.
I teach a class called Dramatic Structure. And not long ago, I realized that almost all of the movies I choose to show, both classics and more modern, have themes centered around love. Even really violent ones like The Equalizer, which I mentioned when I was being interviewed by Angelina Carlton for an upcoming episode for her podcast, “Designing Your Legacy”. Surprisingly, it’s a story about love. Denzel Washington’s character is a mysterious person, who we discover as the movie goes along, has black ops type skills. He’s a widower and promised his wife that he wouldn’t use those skills any longer. But then he meets a teenage woman who he discovers has been a victim of sex trafficking. That sets up this dilemma inside him. He likes the girl and wants to see her be able to be free to follow her dreams. He has the skills to free her, but what about his promise to his late wife? Eventually he decides that using his dubious skills to help someone is better than not caring at all. He finds love for a fellow human being who is suffering and he comes to her rescue.
And maybe The Equalizer is the perfect illustration of why I love digging deeply into the themes of stories. The world isn’t perfect but we can make choices every day that help make it a better place to live.
I am determined to look for the love even in the most horrific situations. It might be hidden but it’s always there. If I focus on loving the people who only know hatred, fear, and greed, maybe that act of loving will make a small difference in our shared experience. I don’t always find it easy to do this. My first reaction is to blame and condemn. But then I remember, “Only love is real”, and that I have all those dark feelings inside me too. In different circumstances, I could be the person perpetrating that crime, or starting the war, or cheating people. So it’s a balancing act. I need to heal my own dark emotions, forgive those who have wounded me, and I need to show compassion and love to those who are deeply wounded themselves.
The best times for me to look for the love is when I’m deciding which candidates to vote for, or organizations to support, or when someone I know needs help, or when some negative reaction is triggered in me. And then I have to love enough to forgive.
Where do you look for love?
Welcome new followers. Thanks to all of you who like, or occasionally comment on these posts. I appreciate you very much.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022
I’m so passionate about stories that I created the Story-Power podcast and Patreon communities so I’d have an excuse to talk story with other story lovers. If you’re passionate about stories too, and want to talk about what you’ve learned from your favorites, come join me at patreon.com/StoryPower.
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