There is a quote that haunts me: The things we tell another are not the experience, but the story of the experience.
Stories are far more than just words on a page. Stories are the reality we react to, the reality we base our sense of worth and accomplishment upon, and the reality that we are remembered for.
Certainly, factual reality matters. If I strike someone in the face, no story will change the fact of the bloody nose on their face. However, the story of what happened – no matter how divergent from the factual reality – will be what others react to. The understanding of why that punch was thrown will provide the justification and the reasoning that follows from that action.
Long after the fact is dead and in the ground, the story remains. It remains, too, not as something frozen in time, but as a living, breathing thing. Stories grow, change, adapt and breath in our minds until they take upon themselves a far greater importance than that original, long-forgotten fact.
Our lives unwind upon the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other. When we look upon the ruins and the monuments of our actions, there is always a part of ourselves – deeply buried – that remembers the truths at the center of the stories we have woven like veils about ourselves.
We lock the crypts of our souls with words like chains to bind our eyes to our own secret truths. Sometimes our stories are the things that set us free; sometimes they are the very things that destroy everything we had thought to save.