In the beginning was a story ...

In the beginning there was a story:

“And God said ‘Let there be light….’” (The Bible)

“Ages ago the entire universe existed in an egg-shaped cloud…” (China)

“The world at first was only water and darkness, and all the animals lived above the sky….” (Cherokee)

“The entire Universe was thousands of times smaller than the head of a pin. Then it suddenly exploded in a Big Bang, and with that, time, space and matter were all created.” (Stephen Hawking)

“You slept and grew inside Mommy’s tummy for nine months until you were ready to come out, and then one day that’s what you did, and everyone was so happy to meet you ….” (Me, or you, or just about anyone)

We live in a universe bounded by Story.  Whether it’s the entire cosmos or your own life, no matter how far back you go to find out where something came from, you’ll find a story there already waiting for you.  A story someone else is telling you, or a story you have to create for yourself.

The past is nothing more than the stories we tell about it, and the same is true of the future. What will life be like a hundred years from now? How will the universe end? And more importantly, what’s going to happen to ME?

For physicists, the beginning and the ending of all things can be expressed in equations, but the rest of us can only imagine the past and the future in stories.

(And maybe mathematics is a kind of storytelling, too, with numbers instead of words.)

And what about the way things are now? Just where are we in the universe? How big is it? Why are we here? All of our questions lead to stories of one kind or another: myths and theories and belief systems are all stories.

In the beginning was a story. And right now is a story. Lots of them, actually. Big stories that almost everyone believes in, and smaller stories that usually don’t quite fit the big ones.

What story are you in?

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