I recently came across this quotation by Brandon Sanderson: “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
Truth be told, I’d never heard of Sanderson. (He’s an American fantasy writer.) But his comment made me think about storytellers and stories.
I agree that storytellers give us questions to think about, but they have a larger purpose too.
Storytellers weave the threads that bind us to one another. They connect one generation to the next, backwards and forwards across time.
And that reminds me of another idea I recently came across.
In her book For Small Creatures Such As We, Sasha Cohen (daughter of Carl Sagan and Anne Druyan) writes that her mother once told her that people die twice. The first time is our physical death. The second time is when the last person who knew us—or knew about us—has passed on.
That’s why stories are important. We live on as long as our stories live on.
Sasha Cohen made another interesting point in her book. Her father once told her that the air on our Earth is relatively stable. So the air we breathe today is the same air our ancestors breathed millennia ago, and the same air our great-great-grandchildren will breathe.
That’s a lovely thought, I think.