The Beauty of Stories: The Ultimate Staycation, Part III
I’m baaaaack!...It’s been four months since my last blog, “The Beauty of Stories: The Ultimate Staycation, Part II.” Admittedly, the past few months have been emotionally exhausting: Rising COVID numbers, increased visibility of police brutality, violent assaults on peaceful protesters, and just the need for protests at all! Wear a mask! Don’t wear a mask! Digital learning vs. in-person instruction. Teach in-person or lose my job! It’s just too much!
In this month’s blog, I return to the beauty of stories for a much-needed escape from the madness that has become 2020. Specifically, amidst the pandemic and pandemonium, stories offer characters and settings that are familiar to us, and in whom or which we find comfort. Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung identifies such characters and settings as archetypes - those universal symbols whose meaning we can only attribute to some sense of ancestral knowledge.
Let’s face it! We love a good story. Even if its something we’ve never read before, we crave the conflict at the heart of any decent work of literature. The conflict may be internal – To be or not to be; that is the question! - or it may be external – Cain vs. Abel or even Batman vs. Superman. Either way, the source of the conflict typically amounts to some type of battle between good and evil. The hero defeats the villain and rescues the damsel.
Yes! The beauty of stories offers us familiar quests that speak to our experiences as human beings. We can relate to the damsel in distress in need of saving. As parents, teachers, and caretakers we play – or feel the need to play – the hero, the Old Wise Man. What happens, though, when – despite our best efforts to “play” the hero or the Old Wise Man, the world around us sees us as the villain, the monster, the fool? What happens when, despite our best efforts to channel our inner hero, our inner wise man, our inner King or Queen, the society in which we learn, work, and play sees us as the bad guy, the boogey man, the imbecile, or the pauper?
This concept is nothing new. W. E. B. DuBois called it double consciousness: seeing yourself one way, while being ever cognizant that the world sees you otherwise. One of my favorite commercials is one by Procter & Gamble, entitled “The Look;” featured below, it captures the essence of this message, and it is one that remains especially poignant today. The world is a crazy place; and we’re bombarded with emotionally charged images that creep into our consciousness and take root within our subconscious. Fortunately, we have the beauty of stories to offer us the opportunity to escape the crazy way society may have us view ourselves and, instead, to channel our own inner archetype and enjoy that journey, even if for only a little while…
"The Look." Procter & Gamble. YouTube. https://https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aJav36Nbn58&t=13s. Accessed 12 October 2020.