As a toddler I sat with my mother while she listened to soap operas on the large console radio in our living room. Television was in its early stages of development as I grew up, and it wasn't until I was 10 that our family bought a 12-inch Admiral TV set for our home in Greensboro, North Carolina. So my early imagination was fed by radio, the soaps like "Guiding Light" or "Just Plain Bill" (for which I owe my first name), and such shows as "Sky King," "The Great Gildersleeve," "Amos and Andy," "Terry & the Pirates," "Let's Pretend," "Our Miss Brooks," "Lights Out," "Grand Central Theater," and my favorite, "Lux Radio Theater,"which adapted popular movies for the radio format.
There is an apocryphal story about the universe, that it is "turtles all the way down," with no first turtle, or prime mover. From where I sit today, I would argue that it's stories all the way down. Once I thought my life's goal was to discover the answers to two questions: who am I and what am I to do? Now I believe that the answers to both can only be given in a story.
Gottschall in The Storytelling Animal (which I have not yet finished) thinks the brain is hardwired for telling stories. We imagine stories about the future, both while awake and sleeping, in order to simulate different scenarios without the possibility of real failure. This can have evolutionary advantages for social groups. In addition, only exciting stories about avoiding trouble and solving problems can mesmerize the brain enough to make the necessary neural changes. Ordinary life will not get the juices flowing.
I use to conceive of my life as a journey. Then, after religion became important, a pilgrimage. This doesn't seem to me to involve trouble, but is rather a quest for knowledge and wisdom. Ignorance is the enemy and the spur. It also doesn't feel like a hero's journey which was the ground for Campbell's work on mythology. But later, after I'd undergone a few negative experiences, I began to think of my story as the triumph over adversity. Rather than let life get me down, I persevered and survived. Again, not very heroic.
Now, at the close of my life, there is nowhere left to go but here. The story is almost over. We all hope that our stories will continue to be retold by family and friends after we're gone from the scene. And this hope, too, is a story.