What’s the point of stories? How high do they sit on the ladder of usefulness? When floods hit or drought rages, would you rather live next to a doctor or a writer?
So what if they make you laugh or cry or tremble in your bedsocks? That’s a long way from saving lives. Surely even the best tale is nothing but icing on the cake of a comfortable life.
But if that’s the case – if stories aren’t essential to humans – why have they been around as long as we have? From cave paintings to e-books, they shape our experiences – an annoying day, a surprise visit, a freak accident – and help us make sense of a world that can otherwise seem chaotic. We’re wired for stories. Why?
Answering that seems to split the world in two. Some believe that the wiring comes from currents and chemicals that whizz round and collide to produce ‘needs’: from hunger and sleep to love and hope. And that’s where it ends.
Others think that behind the wiring and the whizzing is a God – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or whoever.
The cows will probably never come home on that debate. But more powerful than arguing for the God I believe in is the relief that come from trusting that my own little life fits into a bigger, wilder, more wonderful story.