Who hasn’t had the joy of sitting around a campfire singing songs and telling stories? Campfires invite some of childhood’s scariest ghost stories.
Our prehistoric ancestors told stories while they were keeping warm or cooking their dinner around the fire. They didn’t have television or computers to entertain themselves. No social media. They told stories.
One told how he narrowly escaped being eaten by a huge tiger. Another described a cave hidden by a waterfall she found a half-day’s journey west. And one related how he saw a man ambushed by strangers in a narrow valley just before the fishing river.
Stories are how the hunters and gatherers of long ago learned how to survive. If they didn’t listen, they would miss valuable information in the stories of others, and when they were in a similar situation, they might not have time to figure it out on their own. They needed to learn. They required that information. Or die.
We are naturally attracted to story. “Once upon a time . . . ” invites our attention because our brains were designed for survival. It cues our subconscious brain, which is always scanning our environment, discerning what is important and why, and deciding what to do about it.
Story is how our brain processes what has happened before, whether to others or us, and what could happen now or in the future to us or those we care about. Story is possibility.
Around a campfire or at a coffeeshop, in a movie theater or bookstore, it’s all about the story.