image by garlandcannon

We are made of stories

by Augusto Cuginotti

I’ve heard that we are made of stories, not atoms.

We study in school how we are made both in biology and history. And it makes sense we should be both.

Our biological structure and organisation define how we operate in this world, and although more than just atoms, we are still bound to what our biology allows us as human beings.

On the other hand, we know people who are not among us anymore but are still present in our lives and influencing lives of society.

They stay through the stories we hear from the moment we are born and then everyday since. And though their bodies are not here, we can say they are part of who we are and, in some ways, that they made us too.

Atoms fall short in representing the greatness of the human family. Beyond our biological selves, what makes us human are the stories we’ve been told and the ones we choose to tell.

We are made collectively

Another thing that makes us more than our biology is the fact that we are socially made because we are a collective. The way we socially reproduce as society is by interaction with others. That happens every time we meet.

We meet to build trust among ourselves and then replicate the stories (and history) that we choose to replicate.

When we meet, we decide collectively on the additions and subtractions we want to make on those stories so they will be carried forward differently or in more than one version.

Despite our choices, there is always a level of trust needed to feed social conviviality and maintain the stability of our social reproduction.

From trust derives the knowledge of how to be together. From knowing how to be together all other knowledge emerge.

Most of our gatherings take place for us to build and rebuild trust so we can continue to agree and disagree together. Gatherings are spaces to generate stories for the collective and are in them that we are made, remade and unmade.

As the future has been built from our actions, we are in the past the stories we tell and in the future the declarations we make. Finally in the here and now, there is the convergence of both things, represented in the choices we collectively make in every moment.

If we are made of stories we’ve got to nurture them more. Not the stories directly, since they are our mothers and can take care of themselves, but to nurture the spaces of trust that can feed them.