Six Billion Heroes


The side of the church read: “Every soul has a story.”

That is, I assumed that it was a church. I was driving home at the time and only glimpsed it in passing. I gleaned an impression of pink stucco and a few pairs of cherub style wings: the naked baby kind of cherub, not the avenging, four-faced, Old Testament cherubim.

I got the sense that the mural was campaigning for baby rights: anti- abortion seemed the most likely, but I was past it almost as soon as I saw it and only managed to catch the slogan in passing.

The sentiment was trite but I couldn’t argue with the reasoning. Humans are nothing if not storytellers. Maybe it is a factor of being self aware. Maybe it is a pattern recognizing instinct that is key to survival. Whatever its roots, the human need to create and share stories seems to be universal.

Assuming that life has a higher purpose, I had to wonder what function this story telling instinct plays in the grand scheme of things. Here we are, a planet of six billion discrete storytellers spinning out our tales across time and space. It’s important enough to us that we write books and make movies and sing songs to remember these stories. It’s so universal that we don’t even consider it a necessity: “stories” is not included on the list with food and shelter as a necessary resource.

What story are we telling? Is it a single ongoing narrative of incomprehensible complexity? Is it billions of vignettes? Does one man, in his time, truly play many parts or are we all heroes in a story with unlimited threads? To what end does this story exist? To what climax is this story building? To what audience is this story being told?

This last question hung in my mind. It seemed to me that the question of the audience defined the nature of the story itself: that an audience of the self is the story of a hero. The audience of an adversary is the story of a struggle. The audience of a deity is the story of… Well, this one I didn’t know. I’m not a deity, after all.

By the time I made it home I’d put the question out of my mind: I was busy telling myself the story of dinner, but it came back to me today and I thought I’d explore it a little bit.

Every soul may have a story, but whose story is it?

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 3, 2015.

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