I recently heard about an idea which might have an interesting application to myself. The idea is that, as we grow up, the stories we hear build neural pathways which enable us to frame our own experiences appropriately. By taking in a wide variety of stories, with different themes, structures, and endings, we also build a wide variety of neural pathways enabling us to frame each experience we have in the context of a story template which is appropriate.
However, if you don’t take in a variety of stories and instead only hear stories with unhappy endings for example, then as you grow up you will be less likely to be able to apply any other kind of story template to your own experiences and so would be likely to visualise how it’s all going to go wrong, even in the midst of good news and pleasant days.
Last year I mentioned that I had an idea whose time had come. It’s probably a little too early to divulge at the moment. But I can say that it all comes down to the power of writing. This extract from the Shawshank Redemption shows exactly what I mean.
Andy was head librarian for twenty-three years and I saw him gradually turn one small room lined with ‘Readers Digest Condensed Books’ and ‘National Geographics’ into the best prison library in New England.
He began to write to the state senate in 1954. Andy’s weekly requests for library funds were routinely turned down until 1960 when he received a cheque for two hundred dollars. The senate probably appropriated it in hopes that he would shut up and go away. Vain hope. Andy felt he had finally gotten one foot in the door and he simply redoubled his efforts; two letters a week instead of one. In 1962 he got four hundred dollars, and for the rest of the decade the library received seven hundred dollars a year like clockwork. By 1971 that had risen to an even thousand. By the time Andy left, you could go into the library and find just about anything you’d want. And if you couldn’t find it, chances were good that Andy could get it for you.
From ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King