There are two stories humans create and maybe need for survival’s sake:
The Who-Am-I? story and the Who-is-God? story.
The two stories have different protagonists, but they always intertwine.
THE STORY OF ME
This is the story about self.
We deeply believe that we are separate beings from every other being that has ever been created in the universe. We believe we have a consciousness, even though there is no scientific explanation of consciousness or evidence that it even exists. We believe we are someone who experiences the events of life. A self. Some people even believe we have a soul, a spirit, something that makes us different from every other biological organisms, different from every other human being.
Something that makes us unique.
Made in God’s image.
We believe that we are who we think we are.
I believe I’m Daniel Chacón, and I have a story.
Perhaps it’s necessary for humans to believe we are who we think we are, for the sake of survival. Maybe that’s why the brain convinces us that we have a self, that we are not just an organism, and our story matters.
Most people in the world believe this.
Ask any Intro to Creative Writing teacher, they’ll tell their students, Your story matters!
If someone doesn’t believe they have a story about self, why should they take care of the organism in which they are housed? We need stories to survive.
When we are not aware that our sense of self is only a fabricated story, we create a story anyway, a default story correlated to our desires and fears and other perceptions of self and how the world works. If you think the world is a hopeless, dark and sad place, the details of your story will reinforce this underling faith in your idea.
If you believe that you are a hopeless wreck, will never achieve anything positive in life, can never be loved by anyone, you will find ways to confirm this every day of your life, all the way until your sad ending.
But the opposite is true, if you believe you are a moral person, one who believes in love, has a lot of love in your life, sees goodness in everyone, everywhere. You will most likely live a pretty “happy” life. Not that anything different would “happen to you,” but rather what does happen is reinforcement of your beliefs and is the details that build your narrative. The Intro to Creative Writing teachers are right! Your story matters!
But it’s not rrue.
Think about your own story.
Do you have some sense of who you are?
Do you believe in God?
Did you experience a happy childhood?
Do you believe that you were the little kid asleep under the covers dreaming about “some day?”
Definitely not on a physical level, because as most people know, all the atoms of our physical make up are replaced every seven years. You’re not the kid you remember being, and, in fact, the memories you have of that kid aren’t even accurate. They’re a fabrication your brain created to give you a sense of self and to reinforce your story.
My name is Daniel Chacón. I was born in Fresno, California. I wanted to be a lawyer, so I got a degree in Political Science, but the year I graduated with my BA, I took a fiction writing class, and I was hooked on writing and never looked back at the law.
The important part of our stories, like the important parts of memory, are not the details.
I mean, the details are important in a God-is-in-the-details sort of way, but what matters is the meaning of the story, not the factual details.
I’m a good man.
“I’m sick man, I am a spiteful man, I am an unattractive man.”
I’m the savior of the planet.
I’m a good mother.
We summarize our stories according to meaning, and the details of our memory and the details we give attention to in the landscape around us are things that enhance our story.
And our story is about survival. Expansion. Desire.
The elegant equation of character-based fiction is P=CH/T(y).
Plot equals character over time, with yearning over time.
Our stories of self are desire taking form.
GOD and PHYSICS
In the second story we create, the protagonist is God or the universe or Reality itself.
Or the gods, mother nature, physics, biology, neuroscience. These are essentially the stories we tell ourselves to understand reality and where we belong.
We need a story that connects us to something beyond self, a story that unifies us with the source, a grand equation, a TOE.
Some of us believe in stories about God (reality) passed on to us by our parents and their parents.
Some of us believe in science, that everything began with the Big Bang.
But most of what we believe about reality is a cartoon version, that is, the details of the stories are too complex for our understanding, too much data for our processing abilities. Even if we think we believe in the physics’ explanation of the universe, we only know the basic narrative, a cartoon version, not even an hour-long episode of Nova.
What we believe about God and the Universe isn’t even close to the truth.
If there’s such a thing as “Truth.”
What we believe might represent the themes and details of a narrative, but the story is not true.
This is something impossible for some people to ever accept (our brains will not allow us, because we “know in our hearts” that we are right), but what we believe about god, science, and one-ness-with-all is false.
You can say you believe in physics, but if you encounter the equation for the Higgs boson it will appear like magical writing from an ancient culture. It will mean nothing to you but a feeling. It becomes a sigil. Here it is, the God Particle:
Richard Feynman was famous for saying, They say there are three people in the world who really understand quantum mechanics. I don’t think there’s that many.
We don’t know the details of our story of reality, we know mostly what has been told to us.
We accept the structure, the model of reality, and we call it physics or Christianity, etc.
We could grow up Christians, Muslims, Jews, practice curanderismo or Santería, study Kabbalah, but most of us will only understand the narrative frame, that is, the basic structure of that system. And even if you knew the math, physics is so specialized that you would have to choose a particular focus in your research, while the rest of the physics story would still be presented to you as “givens”. If you enter the physics discourse community, space-time is a given.
But this is what makes us human:
We have two stories.
And both of these stories have thousands –maybe millions of micro stories –all of which reinforce the meaning of our two stories.
If you believe God is real and He watches over you like a father from His throne in heaven, and if He controls your fate, you will find so much order in the universe that if you do something sinful against God, you will filter out other possibilities of the future and make sure that God punishes you.
What you believe about your stories is constantly confirmed by your experience.
Confirmation bias is real, and you’re even doing it now. If you believe that this class will be a great experience, you’ll find confirmation of that over the next seven weeks. If you believe this class is stupid, and you’re only taking it because you need another class and it fit into your schedule, the stupidity will be confirmed at every step.
Before we go further into our discussion, here’s another premise I ask you to accept:
You don’t have a brain.
Ask me about this in our first Live Class.