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Memory – the Essential Ingredient for Storytelling

memory and storytelling

From the minute after the Big Bang to your most recent walk in the neighbourhood park, our minds are filled with stories that we tell ourselves. These stories are about the creation, our reasons for being here, who we are and why we do things. Storytelling is an essential way for us to process, find meaning and to pass this meaning on to others.

Storytelling requires an essential ingredient: memory. This memory is not necessarily objective, but it is long and deep. Consider the stories about your family and your ancestors.

– My grandmother used to tell us that she was so small that she used to sleep in a shoebox. I am pretty sure that this wasn't true, but it really makes for a wonderful image.

– My head has been filled with images of my ancestors wandering the desert, waiting to get into the Promised Land, feeding off the miraculous manna, supplied by the divine hand. Fact or fiction? You decide. But, I can picture the elation on the faces of a nomadic tribe as food rained down in an otherwise barren situation.

Memory is not only individual, it can also be collective. Consider the stories of your nation: do you remember stories of bravery and courage, loss, suffering and resilience? Do you remember stories of famous battles, speeches, resistance and persistence in the face of adversity? I do.

Memory enables us to pass the story forward from generation to generation. It provides us with meaning and a sense of belonging. It also enriches the narrative with the seasoning of emotion, color and depth.

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