It was the humour and fantasy writer Terry Pratchett who wrote that humans are a very special and scary form of ape, because this ape lives on a substance called story-telling. Our lives are truly framed by the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and about our environment.
The death of the sun, the growth of a blade of grass, the rise of a civilisation, and the fall of a single man is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And the human ape always makes it into a moral story. It may be a small victory, or it may be a vast loss, but it is always a story.
Even the species itself is a story; how we during 96 per cent of our existence barely left a trace, and only lived on that which we found in our environment, and how we ascended 7000 years ago into civilisation and progress. Civilisation is only 4 % of our existence as a species.
Yes, every single thing we do, think, feel, hope, fear, want, and disown is a story with a cause and an effect, a beginning and an end, and an outcome. We walked out of the mist of time, we achieved civilisation, and we progress toward something. We move toward a conclusion, an end, a reward, or a defeat. Our thinking is linear, a line of sentences and words that carry meaning. And the meaning is often a lesson. It is a warning, or an inspiration.
Thus, writing is in a way the distilled form of human thinking. It is our chaotic thinking reduced to forms and rules and method, and it is built into our genes. Writing is part of us because it mimics what we actually are. The story-telling ape. We string together a sequence of causes and effects, analyse the parts, and arrive at a conclusion at the end – a conclusion that has some sort of message, or realisation.
People of reason often want to think of rationality as something apart from our essence. “Mind over matter” is a recurring ideal where it is somehow accepted that our minds can shape and control our bodies, our essence. How often have we not heard the exhortation that “one day humanity will progress” to some rational, detached thing.
I’m not sure that such a divide exists, and I’m not sure that reason and intelligence can be split from our core essence, the story-telling ape. In itself, that is another story of aspiration toward something. It has a beginning of barbarity, a middle of striving toward utopia, and an end where we either achieve the goal or fail. We are quite didactic things, we humans.
Sometimes, I’m very glad that I fell into the category of “writer” because writing gives me a license to sit and think about stupid things like this. Sometimes, I just wish to wash away in the sea of humanity and just be like everybody else. But if I had to chose, I’d say that being that writer, with that license, is a privilege, and that my story is one of a beginning of fumbling words, a middle of aspiring to convince, and an end as yet unknown where I either succeed in becoming a writer or fail.
Which will it be? I have no clue. Yet.