Sunday, February 19, 2012

Likely Story

We humans have been telling stories ever since we rose from the "primordial ooze." The caves of Lascaux in the Pyrenees Mountains hold some of the earliest examples, drawings on the cave walls, some 17,000 years old. Humans thrive on story, from reading to television to gossip, we are walking histories. We like to think that our histories shape the people we are and the cultures we belong to.  In the fourteenth century the Florentine writer Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron, a book of one hundred tales told over the course of ten days during the time of the black death, which killed 30 - 60% of Europe's population. Later medical treatises  recommended listening to literature and soothing music as a way to stay healthy in times of epidemics. Some scholars speculate that these treatises were written after The Decameron, a book in which the main characters fled the plague in Florence, escaping to the countryside and spending their days telling tales and singing songs. I like to think that these early "doctors" held an answer to our modern ills. Although we are bombarded daily with television news stories, I think that we have become disconnected to others, and that disconnection comes from the lack of real face to face contact, of the act of sharing our stories with another. To have someone listen to one of our stories and empathize, to "know" what we are going through, that very connection is what our Facebook culture lacks. There is a void. And just as in the fourteenth century, that void may be filled by personal contact with our fellow human travelers, to listen to their words and identify with their struggles.