From lighting a cigarette with an unmatched demeanor to eating a box full of candies with an unparalleled simplicity, from gossiping about a night spent with a lover to loose-talking about how depressing life can be, from feeling proud to feeling down, from thinking straight to thinking non-linearly, from acting weird to conforming, all that we do make our stories. What is a story? A story doesn’t always have to be amusingly inventive or laconically clichéd to seem realistic. A story is simply a story : one person’s way of life, another’s ideal. Yet, we always crave to add more to the stories that we’ve already written with our lives, we always yearn to do something new – new as in rarely done before - in our lives and write a story that either will strike awe in the hearts of people or make them feel inferior about what they’ve done with their lives.
The tradition of telling and making stories has probably been there since the dawn of mankind. I can’t remember of a generation of children who has not been told about the great feats of their ancestors – be the feats true or be figments of imagination to swell their parents’ pride. A man learns either by chance – possibly when nature asserts its power on mankind, as in the case of discovery of fire – or by referring to events that have already occurred in the past. Most people – atleast most people I know – refer to events that have occurred before. Let’s try some thought experiments to fully bolster my point. If I ask you to think about ‘pure evil’ then what comes to your mind? Satan or your teacher, as I expected. What would you do when you stand in the middle of a cross-road junction ? You will refer to your memory to find your way out. So, in short, we always have the tendency to refer to events that have taken place in the past to solve our problems. If human beings did not have the power of story-telling then, with respect to both intellect and experience, we would have been helpless and childishly naïve in dealing with any situation.
We are all artists, painters equipped with colors both known and unknown. We all aspire to create mimesis, but we always end up with something radically different from the ideal that we had chosen before making our art. The difference has its shades of black and grey, maybe even rare splotches of white, but, as a whole, it alludes to our individuality. But how, one may ask, most people sound redundant, and why do most people want to have a simple story ? An idealist’s response would be that they are not different and are all the same. But, sadly, reality doesn’t conform with the idealist’s point of view as reality not only accounts for idealism but it also bridges the gap between platonic concepts and real world truths. In reality, we either want to be like someone else or like no one else. As a matter of fact, to act differently from the rest one needs to know the story that has been written by the rest. Again, by unknown law of nature, no two stories are identically the same. One may want to be like Richard P. Feynman but may end up realizing that they cannot condone the frivolities that stripper clubs incorporate. One may aspire to be like Dhirubhai Ambani but may end up having a far easier life than Ambani had. Choosing a story is the easiest part of the process : living and changing the story requires a bit of intelligence.
And how and why do we write our stories ? The thirst for rewriting history, for doing something unique, is in every man’s blood. As children, we all dream big, we all plan to write better stories than the ones that we end up living with. But I’m not making any insinuations. I sincerely believe that everyone, every single human being is made up of Nobel-Prize content. But how is one supposed to think about world peace or physics when one already has to worry about earning money and supporting oneself? Finding novel opportunities in between the struggle for survival can really be a difficult task : I, being a simpleton, will surely miss them. As we grow older – and bitter, if you may like to add - our lot grows more conscious about the struggle for existence, and then our stories take a different turn and move in completely unknown lanes : the story writes itself.