A New Kind of Lab
Story Street’s emergence as a pillar of popular culture was not to be a temporary fad. Clothing styles went in and out of fashion; wars were stubbornly started and apologetically ended; longstanding, ironclad traditions were suddenly criticized for ‘being sort of silly,’ and still Story Street carried on largely unaffected. Witnessing older adults introduce younger generations to the street was so common a sight many thought it was itself becoming a ritual. And the permanently festive atmosphere found at the street seemed to guarantee that a steady flow of common folks seeking to reveal their stories to the world would never really be in danger of coming to an end.
Interestingly enough, even with Story Street’s fame as a place that was welcoming of anyone’s stories, there were many people who wanted to participate more actively but just couldn’t get themselves to join the ever-growing group of anonymous storytellers that starred at the street. Some would claim to not have any good ideas that they could share. Others would admit to having a few ideas they thought were good, but would claim difficulty in putting them together to form a story they felt would be worth telling. And others yet were sure they had a few good stories in them, but remained unsure about their ability to properly tell them.
All of those conclusions were of course questionable given that those ideas and those stories had always only existed inside those people’s minds – so how could they have been so sure of their assumed shortcomings? But when you came to think of it all those excuses had one common factor to them: the horrifying and paralyzing fear of being exposed to failure in the eyes of others.
There was the fear of people not liking their ideas. There was the fear of people liking their ideas but not liking their stories. And there was the fear of people liking their ideas and their stories but not liking the way those stories were being told.
Fear…horrifying and paralyzing fear!
This subject soon became of great interest to a group of passionate storytellers and frequent visitors to Story Street, who also happened to be some of the most promising scientific minds of their time. To them fear had a logical purpose that was easy to understand: it was simply a human emotion generated in response to the imminence of danger that was in itself essential to our sense of self-preservation. But what they felt was particularly interesting in this situation was the fact that such paralyzing fear was generated not by a threat of physical harm or death but by a threat of emotional harm based on extremely subjective and personal evaluations of these people’s talent and ability as creative storytellers.
What those individuals feared was a rejection of their imagination, a rejection of their creativity. They feared being told that they should no longer dream because their dreams weren’t worth dreaming.
While some would have overlooked the importance of this matter, that was not the case with this group of young scientists. They felt stories were essential to how we behave as individuals and as a society. It’s through stories that we best learn about morality, about what is right and what is wrong. It’s through stories that we best understand our past and are therefore given the opportunity to adjust our own collective conduct with hopes for a better future. It’s stories that make us realize just how powerful human creativity really is, and consequently learn not only of our ability to dream but also that it’s okay to chase those dreams in our lifetimes – or at least that’s how it should always be. The point then was not really how great a story was or could be, but how much we all potentially lost by having a story remain untold for nothing other than a person's own fears.
And so this particular group of scientists believed not only that every story had the right to exist, but that in order to exist, a story had to be shared with others.
Motivated by this common belief, they got together to research ways with which some of people’s most common storytelling afflictions could be dealt with. After a short period of very intensive work, initial tests proved immensely encouraging: some of the people who had previously thought their ideas were no good were now confident of their ability to turn them into stories. Others were made to realize that they had it in themselves to become good storytellers if only they tried.
So impactful and rewarding were the initial results of the new research led by these so-called story scientists that they soon concluded they should join forces for good – and join forces they did as they founded the prestigious Story Street Lab shortly after.
Today some might say they’ve never heard it, but there was a time when the expression ‘the lights are always on at Story Street Lab’ was as famous as Story Street itself. And you know, the lights were indeed always on at Story Street Lab.
As a matter of fact they still are...
(TO BE CONTINUED....)
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