The Stories That Shaped Us


Lindy Dale, Writer

Life is but a grand adventure. It is an epic. It is parable. It is a road that has been traveled by billions upon billions of people with each life ending vastly different from every other. Life is shaped by the stories of lives lived before our own. In the center of all life live stories, and in the center of all stories lives life.

With a simple glance into history you will discover that every generation has stories that shape the world. In the 18th century, William Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies took hold upon Europe, inciting popular phrases into common language such as “all’s well that ends well”, “a heart of gold,” and “love is blind.” Similarly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories were an instant success in the late 1890s and helped to inspire the mystery writing craze of the 1920s.

In our day and age, storytelling is much more than plays and books. While these still play a major role in so many lives, movies, television shows, video games, and ready access to the internet have come into effect. With that being said, our generation has been shaped by stories in ways previous generations couldn’t have even imagined because with one click of a button we can dive into new universes.

Recently, I asked several students and teachers to list movies, TV shows, books, games, plays, anything really that tells a story and has impacted their life. The results were not quite what I expected. I assumed most of the answers I received would be stories popularized in the last 30 years. However, there was no range of time that these tales came from.  

I got everything from I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead,  just about every Disney cartoon,  Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Rings, and The Great Gatsby, and so many more, some that I had never even heard of.  

100 years of titles were represented in a very very small sample of the population and everything mentioned seemed to have impacted the respondents in some way. 

The Breakfast Club was the first thing/only thing that made me want to experience high school life,” one student said. Think, were it not for the unionizing feeling and dive into high school life that The Breakfast Club provides its viewers, this student may have come into high school with a very different agenda and attitude. 

Mr. Martin commented on how The Lord of the Rings series impacted him in high school and through the rest of his life. 

“I just think it’s inspirational on ordinary people doing extraordinary things to defeat evil,” he said. 

That is one of the great marvels of storytelling; an author is only limited by their imagination and a reader/viewer/listener is only limited by how willing they are to accept the impossible. It seems highly unlikely that a short little fellow and his friends could walk the length of the world barefoot with hardly any clue as to where they are going or why, defeat the evil, and live to discuss the journey over second breakfast later in life, but that is what happens in Lord of the Rings

 In all of human history billions of lives have been lived and each life is an ordinary yet extraordinary story we can learn and grow from. 

I guarantee you that F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t imagine The Great Gatsby inspiring  generations to follow their dreams. I promise that Anne Frank couldn’t process that her diary would show people that when all hope seems gone there is always light, and Stan Lee had no idea that his heroes would help fight the battles of those who feel too helpless to fight them on their own. The stories in their heads have given us the feelings in our hearts. To them, they were simply stories and nonsense they believed nobody would want to hear. Nevertheless, they allowed themselves to be vulnerable so that we could feel secure.

Think of the characters that you love. Think of the places you wish you could run off to, the things you wish you could do to prove yourself. Think of the stories that shape you and give you the desire to live like you never have. 

In the center of your life lives stories, and in the center of your stories lives life like you’ve always dreamt it could be. Let your heart scream what it feels and your thoughts flow into the world. No matter how absurd you think you are, live without fear and you will experience a tale much like the ones you dream about and write a new one along the way.