In my earlier post, I wrote about a new Turkish TV show I recently discovered. My blogging buddy Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge made a very interesting comment about how music and laughter are universal languages.
It started me thinking, “What else connects us as human beings across cultures?” Shared life experiences, that’s one of them. When I was in Luxembourg, I saw this photography exhibit called “The Family of Man.” It featured a series of photographs that recorded experiences from birth to death but the photographer chose a variety of cultures as samples. The whole point was to make the viewer think that even though people may come from different cultures, many of us go through the same experiences in our lives.
And that proved particularly true on Prince Edward Island, when I went there. I was chatting with a hotel clerk in Souris and I asked about the subject of a photograph hanging on the wall. It led to an interesting chat and I discovered that this clerk and I had lived through many of the same experiences, such as being involved in music in high school (choir) and getting our drivers’ licenses at the same age.
Dance is another language that doesn’t need translation. You can get up on a dance floor in a foreign country and have fun without having to know the lyrics to a song. (Been there, danced that. Hello, Germany.)
Art’s another one. I recently visited the National Gallery of Art in DC and got to see some magnificent work by some of my artistic heroes. Even though many of those artists came from other eras and other cultures, there were still stories that could be understood.
But it’s in our storytelling where we communicate the best to people of other cultures, don’t you think? Our storytellers help us to distinguish our cultures from each other, but also provide deep insight into how people in our countries think. Although the translations from one language to another may not always be perfect, the experiences that characters go through are often life experience to which we can all relate.
Where would we be without our Washington Irvings, our Mark Twains, our Louisa May Alcotts, our Maya Angelous or our Stephen Kings? Life would definitely be bleaker without our storytellers. Each culture has its ghost stories, its great romances, its heroes and its tragedies.
And today we are culturally richer than ever before — podcasts, videos, TV series, books, ebooks, magazines and blogs. Many of them have unique stories to tell — some will sadden while others will encourage and enlighten.
Our stories hold entire worlds when we feel the need for a brief escape from grim reality. They are the wise friends who give us a gentle hug, pat us on the back and comfort us by making us think that everything will turn out all right in the end. They are our companions at beaches, restaurants, library cubicles, couches, coffee shops and window seats. They lull us to sleep by allowing our minds to settle from a busy day and help us pass down wisdom and humor from one generation to another.
Where would we humans of different cultures be without our stories? I only wish I had time enough to read them all.