Few years back, in an attempt to extend my stay in Belgium after my Master’s, I took a course in Visual and Experimental Anthropology, the purpose of which was to teach us to produce our own ethnographic films. That, of course, included the learning of video production techniques. During the first video production class, our trainer, and later on my mentor, Stef, gave us a presentation on the power of storytelling.
He explained the importance of a strong narrative in movie making, relating it to the fact that stories are the easiest way to convey messages, to trigger emotions, to teach and to implement a system of values and beliefs into people. Stories are relatable and simple to understand and internalise, since they appeal to human empathy and they are the tool by which children learn about the world, creating their behavioural and ethical matrix.
I was never a fan of learning as preached and practiced in the academic environment, simply because my mind works in a very simple, empirical manner, I usually learn by doing or I learn by relating to human stories. I remember very little of the vast knowledge I accumulated throughout the years in school. I do however remember books I read, I remember movies I watched, I remember folktales and anecdotes, I remember jokes, song lyrics, paintings, landscapes and faces that have touched my soul, and I remember feelings.
Unsurprisingly, I also interact with people in an anthropological manner. My close friendships, my new acquaintances, are ethnographic works, in which I humbly, respectfully, curiously, religiously receive, cherish and preserve information about another human’s feelings, habits, system of beliefs and consequently actions, which are reflective of this inner universe and reflective of how my fellow humans choose to experience life and the world.
Oftentimes, when people ask me for advice, I relate to examples. I tell them a story, which I associate with the situation presented, and I explain the solutions found and the outcomes of that specific instance, as a possible alternative to the issue with which they are struggling. More often than not, this form of personal coaching through storytelling has worked for those around me.
When my mind finally opened to the scientific reasons why storytelling is such a powerful way of communicating and interacting with peers, I understood that storytelling is something we also use to visualise, to attract and create our own version of reality. Many of us find it difficult to believe in something that we have never seen; therefore, envisaging a hypothetical reality can be a difficult exercise to put into practice.
As surreal as it might seem, the movie “Groundhog Day” is what most people call “life”. The other day, I saw an article about a photographer shooting commuters for 9 years, only to disclose the dehumanising level of routine that people are often trapped in, to the extent to which they perpetually wear the same outfits, take the same routes and practice the same habits.
The only difference being that their inner fire turns lower and lower, the light in their eyes dimmer and dimmer. We often get trapped in a time loop, in which our minds keep playing the same episode of life on and on, we continuously meet the same characters, have the same struggles, fight the same arguments, suffer the same disappointments and encounter the same frustrations.
I invite you to become the hero of your own story today. Turn the page, start fresh. There is a white sheet in front of you, go ahead and fill it with a good tale. Buckle up for a new adventure; use your hesitation and doubt as fuel, head off into the unknown with the sword of your heart’s Truth in your hand. It will help you slay that big, scary dragon called Fear. Fight selflessly, for the sake of the common good, but not compromising on your principles. Take allies with the superpower of Love, who will be there to heal you when you are hurt or wounded, and go bravely in the direction of your dream.
Find your Prince, charming in his honesty and silly quirks; your Cinderella turned Queen through hard work and resilience; your Kingdom of Eternal Life and Youth, which you build by remaining happy, positive and committed to your joy; your Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow, or maybe, just focus on chasing the rainbow. That will tune your soul into a frequency of abundance and limitless riches, and the material gains will not fail to appear.
Be the Hero that the whole of humanity needs. In touch with your emotions. Respectful of the sensibilities of others, ready to fight for a good cause and to vow your life mission to combatting injustice, stereotypes, inequality and hatred. Willing to go the extra mile for the sake of love, for the sake of happiness, for the sake of emotional and mental safety and balance. Brave enough to finish chapters which no longer serve you, and mindful enough to start new chapters in which you reach to a happy end.
And I hope that this story that you choose to write and live as of now will be filled with Love.