How Stories Preserve Us

I love to watch my favorite movies repeatedly.  In some cases, I have been watching them for 25 years and as frequently as once a week.  They take me back to all of the happiness that they brought to me as a child.  I say a lot about books and I am passionate about them, but I would be remiss not to say that I loved movies first.  The transition from listening to stories to reading them for myself was, at first, rather unsatisfying to me.  Movies were a world easy to fall into without having to re-learn how to experience them.

After watching Psycho at the movie theater this week, I started thinking about how these plots have pulled me in and kept me safe throughout my life.  I can tell you this, I have weathered things that may have been impossible without them.  That’s not hyperbole.  If I couldn’t crawl into them at the hardest points in my life, whether those times were as a child or as an adult, I don’t really know that I could have functioned on the bare level that I have occasionally functioned on.  We think sometimes that the stories that we tell are small or silly, especially the fictional ones.  I can tell you that they can be as vital as a pulse.  Watching Janet Leigh drive through those wicked wet roads in the dark, I smiled.  This terrifying world absorbs me and for a while I don’t exist.  There is only this story and it is not mine.  It is safely distant and fictional.  All of its terror is my lovely dream.  Thanks, Hitchcock.  Thanks, Janet Leigh.  Thank you to all of those who made it happen.  Today, I am happy.  But you’ll be there too when I’m not.

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