Storytelling is a necessary evolutionary practice. It is a mirror, a tool for both reflection of the self and a bridge that will connect us with the world. Finding that merger and union with the world around us, at least for a moment, is the ritual practice of story, a momentary catharsis that helps us carry on.

We use our empathetic ability to find sympathetic resonance with characters in stories from earliest childhood to form identity. For the majority of us, because of the painful circumstances of life, we continue to build a self-protective ego-narrative. In time, this narrative of ourselves becomes a prison, one that does not join us to life, but instead separates us from it. We sense this with increasing desperation and anxiety, which is a fear of death. From this place,  we arrive at a crossroads.

There are two paths. We either double down on our self-protective ego narrative, or we risk the transformative process of engaging in art. The first reconfirms our belief systems. It is propaganda that helps us, at least for a moment, to feel safe. It functions as a denial of death. Propaganda leads us down a difficult path, into Yeats’ “ever widening gyre.” The other moves toward discovery and takes us to new territories. It is art, and lets us feel at ease with transformation. We, as we know ourselves, don’t survive, but in a sense might. This is also a difficult path. It is the path of T.S. Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” It is the path of John Keats’ “Negative Capability.” It is the path of Krishna and Buddha and warriors everywhere. It is the movement toward the union of doing we call flow state. The outcomes, an inevitable merger with the universe, are the same in any event. The paths toward that merger might feel different like the difference between a B-sharp and a C-flat. Both and the one is and are the temporary and enduring notes of the cosmos and represent the yin and yang of our story.

Arriving at a place where we might choose which path to follow is a blessing. Whether it is truly a choice, might be anyone’s guess. Certainly it is a privilege and a path that might reveal the exquisite opportunity we have to live, if only for a moment.