|Posted on 10 November, 2013 at 9:00|
Picture how you are when your imagination is captivated by a good story. You are in a different place, a different world. A world full of new and rich impressions, where time is no longer.
Many have recognised the healing as well as the hypnotic power of certain stories. George Macdonald, writing in the 19th century, in his book Adela Cathcart, centres the healing of the depressed heroine on her being told stories by a group of friends who have formed a story club.
Macdonald, who was a consummate storyteller, was also interested in hypnotism and ‘psychological homeopathy.’ He often wrote of a parallel world that his characters inhabited, alongside their ordinary lives. This parallel world, in some of his novels described as Fairy Land, has many of the hallmarks of the world of the subconscious mind, and also of that elusive ‘state’ of hypnotic trance. He wrote in Phantastes:
But it is no use trying to account for things in Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing.
In this world, allegories, metaphors and pictures act powerfully on us, and we are in an increased state of receptivity, ready to learn and grow.
But we all create our own stories, about our view of ourselves and the world and our place and purpose in it. So what happens when our own story is challenged or even broken down by some crisis in life, small or big? Among other things, this could arise from an insult, a great disappointment, or to a shocking diagnosis, for example of cancer.
George Eliot wrote in Middlemarch:
We all remember epochs in our experience when some dear expectation dies, or some new motive is born.
Then we have to create a new, more powerful, and hopefully a truer story for ourselves. The old story was perhaps good in its own way for a time, but now it is inadequate. If the shock is small then perhaps the story can simply be patched up as it were, slightly altered to adapt to the new circumstance or revelation. But sometimes the old story dies a real death, and something completely new has to be created. The story is resurrected in a new form in a new story. And this death may actually be a blessing in disguise, and lead us to much greater things than the old smaller story. The acorn falls to the ground and dies, to make way for the grand oak tree to grow and flourish.
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