Lecture Series~ Building Narrative with Oliver 101: It’s Like the Force, Except It Actually Exists


"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together."

The Force, what an interesting concept, isn’t it? Now that I’ve gotten the obligatory “Star Wars reference in your blog” post out of the way, let’s go ahead and see what we can learn about together. This isn’t about Star Wars, or the Force, this is about narrative. How about we swap out a few words in that classic quote and see what happens:

Narrative is what gives our world power. It’s an abstract concept created by all things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds everything together.”

Whoa. Looks like we just hit pay-dirt. Narrative is truly a thing that is NOT BOUND BY LANGUAGE. Stop reading this post, right now. Take a look outside your window (if applicable). Zero-in on the most interesting looking tree within your visual range. Did you ever stop to think about how that tree got there? There’s a story of how it came to be.

Sometimes we forget to stop and take the time to look about and observe this beautiful world around us, full of marvels, magic, and mystery. Think about the Grand Canyon, for instance. Without words, the Grand Canyon has told us about millions of years of geographical development on this planet. All that was required for us to discover this was to figure out how to interpret the information that is presented in a way that we could understand it.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times in my life I’ve had someone come up to me and say, “Oh wow, I wish I could write but I can’t tell a story or I don’t have anything interesting to say.” FALSE. Everyone and EVERYTHING has a story. Think about what you did this morning, for example. Something along the lines of rolling out of bed, wiping the crust from your eyes, going to the bathroom, pondering what to eat for breakfast, so on and so forth?

Surprise! That’s a story. Although it might not be a particularly INTERESTING story, it is a story nonetheless. Or maybe it IS an interesting story after all…

My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they goin'. Where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes.

The words of a story aren’t nearly as important as the CONTENT of the story. This is why good, great stories are translated into dozens of languages. Because sometimes a story is SO powerful, that we do everything we can to spread it to as many people as possible. The one thing that holds every one of us together as people on this planet, is story.

A story of success can create inspiration.

A story of heartache can create empathy.

A story of hardship and suffering can create a revolution.

A story of love can create hope.

Open your eyes, look for it. See the narrative, see the stories  all around you. The lady that is standing in line at the check out counter at the store with a sullen look on her face? There’s a reason she looks and feels that way. Ever see a pair of shoes tied together, dangling over a powerline or other place up high? Those shoes surely belonged to someone, at some point. Think about how they got up there, use your imagination.

I bet you’ll come up with a wonderful story.

-Oliver

2 comments

  1. My profession allows me to hear the personal stories of many… the painful and the exhilarating, the joy and the despair, and from the outside you might never know that all that is going on…

    There is always a story to be told if you only look for the narrative thread and are willing to hear the message when you pull it… And, on a good day, I can help people re-write their personal narratives.

    “Narrative therapy holds that our identities are shaped by the accounts of our lives found in our stories or narratives.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_therapy

    1. And now, you’ll be able to tell your patients, “You know, Obi-wan was onto something.” And when they look at you funny, you can direct them back here. Circle of life.

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