[ The following is a column I wrote for The Eclectic Observer when I was a senior in high school. I will try to periodically introduce my back-catalog of columns as this blog continues. Nostalgia, you know. ]
Take a trip back through time, focusing on literature and you will find seemingly one critical component embedded in almost every one of the stories. Every story has a deeper message behind the words it presents.
Fables, literary classics, poems, and even Bible stories all convey a message that goes deeper and more practical than simply the text being conveyed.
Almost synonymous with The Tortoise and the Hare is the adage “Slow and steady wins the race”. An extremely old story, The Epic of Gilgamesh, teaches the meaning of friendship. Each of the twenty-four stories in Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic The Canterbury Tales were required to have a message.
Move toward the Bible, and you’ll notice much the same. Spend a moment in church or Sunday school and you’ll notice the story of Jonah speaks of not turning away from God. Flip to the New Testament, and observe that each of Jesus’ parables is expressly designed to convey a message and an example.
The stories and epics of today use basically the same system. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the Maximum Ride series each convey their own respective meanings of persistence, patience, kindness, and sacrifice.
In expressing these lessons, it’s often amazing how the authors do not reveal the deeper nature of these stories until the end of the narrative, even though the whole work seems to centralize around that one timeless main concept. And that’s exactly what those messages are, timeless. People can take just as much from a tale such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf now as they could on the day it was first told.
Whenever you tell a story, be sure to understand the practical usefulness behind it. And whenever you read or hear a story, make sure to gather as much as you can out of it. There will always be something to learn, no matter what the source. And never be too proud to learn from some of the classics that have taught people wisdom for years.