04 March 2013

Stories, and Why They Are Important

“The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”
- Dr. Seuss

I am a reader and a writer. Books were introduced to me at the tender age of five in the form of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. What happened at that moment when my mother began reading aloud, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive...” has shaped me to this day. Books are more than just papers bound by glue and wrapped with a dust jacket. They hold an unmatched satisfaction for the true story, something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, of any nationality or culture. It is the quest for truth through storytelling that has brought me to the way I think and act as a young adult today. 

As a general rule, books are described as those mythical doorways to other worlds, the portals to adventure, the looking glass we peer through to glimpse something outside of our own, dull establishments. Recently, however, I have come to think of books as less of an escape from reality, and more of a quest to understand our reality, and that understanding will provide a balm to the complicated things we face in life. Things like understanding death, loss, hardship and love. Books -- or rather, stories in general -- are the vehicles that move us towards the answer to our humanity, towards the answer that will make sense of, as author Robert McKee put it, “the anarchy of our existence.” I have found many enjoyments in stories, but none so enjoyable as the everlasting search for that undefinable truth.

So, surely, you might think, this quest for something I cannot name would drive me mad with frustration? On the contrary, it is the exact opposite! There has never been and never will be a shortage of stories because there will always be the search for truth, but what advantage this provides is the effects of the journey itself. I have not found the truth, and yet I have been shaped by all the hero’s journeys, the love triangles, the injustices and foolish pursuits in ways that make the unending journey worthwhile. I have a greater understanding of myself: what I consider worth dying for, what I think is foolish to pursue, what I think justice and truth mean. Stories give me the perfect opportunity to think about what I believe in, and whether or not I agree with what I’ve assumed was “the truth” my entire life. 

The never-ending nature of stories is not something to despair about. It is merely the fact that we, as humans, will most likely never find the truth of being, but why would that mean sacrificing the incredible journey? There is great pleasure and knowledge to be found in adventures and romances, and I have found so much enjoyment and satisfaction in figuring out more pieces of myself.

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I submitted this essay as part of my application to the University of Kentucky.  I'd tormented myself for months about the quality of my other essays, and then it occurred to me that I needed to write about something that was a fundamental part of myself: books, but more specifically, stories.  I wrote this essay all in one go, edited it a bit, and then submitted.  The maximum word allowance for the essay was 500 words.  This essay comes it in 497.  (At this time, I don't know whether or not I've been accepted to the University of Kentucky.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!)  It was a true relief to finally write about something that I really cared about.

EDIT:  I got accepted to UK!