The only true story ever told

I think a lot of people, and not just young people, would like to do more with their lives than just eat, sleep, work, and consume. But they’re stuck in an old story about themselves, one that tells them “You are this, and nothing else.” Like Bilbo before Gandalf came along and disturbed his quiet, pleasant little life, they won’t take that step out of the door into the unknown, even if deep down they feel they could become something more, something greater than what they are. So they stick to what they know, and when the need for adventure and purpose grows strong, they watch movies and TV, or play video games. The show or the game feeds the desire to be something more, to be greater than what they are. At least for a while. A game makes it so easy to be a hero … in the game.

On some level we all wish to be the hero of our own life story. But when we turn off the TV or the game, we find ourselves back in a world in which we’re not the hero. Other people are famous, successful, brilliant, and we’re not. Someone else is playing the character we wish we were.

Or we believe there are no real heroes. We grow out of the stories of our childhood, the fairy tales and comforting happy ending stories, and that’s as it should be. One way in which we grow up is by opening our eyes to ways in which real life, our life, isn’t like those stories and is never going to be. But sometimes when people discover how life isn’t like those old stories, they abandon everything the stories have to teach. They come to believe they’re living in a world where the only true, meaningful story ever told is the very short one that goes like this: “Me first.” If you’re not living that story, then you’re a sucker, a fool, a loser.

But I think those old stories really do have something to teach us about how and who we might be, in this world. Something greater than "Me first." And come to think of it, so do the movies, TV shows and video games, since so many of them are based on those old stories.

To be continued...


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