As my regular followers know, I love science. I like to know how things work and why they work. I also love the fact that we cannot fully know this mystery. Yes, I said mystery, for without mystery, few scientific discoveries would have been made. It is the unknown that draws us into the questions, which motivate us to find the answers.
Welcome quantum mechanics to the stage. Quantum mechanics teaches us that the questions we ask, even through the form of scientific theory, greatly define the results we get. Let me say it another way. As a scientist, I observe. From my observations, I arrive at conclusions that result in an hypothesis. I test this hypothesis (which is a fancy form of a question) generally leading me to similar observations, (because that’s what I was looking for). I put out a scientific theory based on my tests and proceed to create experiments to prove my theory.
Quantum mechanics teaches us that what we look for, we find. In other words, the observer (and his/her questions) have an incredible affect on the outcome. If the observer looks for A, A will be found. If the observer creates the exact same experiment, but looks for B, B will be found.
Metaphysically speaking, we are creators – even in the act of scientifically exploring how the Universe works. We must ask ourselves if we are discovering the actual mysteries of the Universe – or quantum mechanically creating a reality that operates the way we think it does – at least until another scientist comes along looking for a different answer.
Why am I even talking about quantum mechanics on a blog about writing, teaching and storytelling? Because storytelling is quantum mechanics – in reverse? No that’s not quite right. A good storyteller* weaves a story to suit the needs (as she/he perceives them) of the audience. The details will all be there, but the emphasis of them will vary, depending on the audience, or the lesson the storyteller wants to teach. The storyteller is acutely aware of the outcome they desire – and create their form to support that outcome.
This is a very old and honored tradition. The Bard uses story to affirm, challenge or change the story landscape of a culture. In the Celtic world, one of a Bard’s primary purposes was to keep the King in integrity. If the king was serving the people well, the Bard told stories and sang songs celebrating his accomplishments. If not, the Bard’s job was to “out him” in the form of mocking ballads and stories. These stories and songs spread through the kingdom via lesser Bards, jesters, and eventually the people themselves.
Through other stories, Bards teach the expectations of the kingdom. When change is necessary for survival, the Bards create stories and songs that lead the people to and through that change. Bards teach the community the questions to ask – and what to look for – in order to create and sustain a collective reality. It’s a practical magic, of sorts.
In our times, that collective reality is up for grabs. The stage is crowded with Bards and jesters telling their stories and singing their songs. Despite the power they seem to wield, we must remember that alone, they cannot create a collective reality. We, The People, have that response-ability. We need to decide if their story will bring us joy, or whether it offers plain good sense.
I’ll leave you with a tease for my next post. Did you know that dandelions teach us how to collectively create a safe and sane world? There’s got to be a story in that! ~Lena
*Note: Some storytellers carry sacred stories handed down through generations. These stories often do not change at all. The storyteller’s craft is not just in the telling, but choosing when the story is needed by the community.