The Lower Bar

otterThe Stories We Live

wolfSit down and have a beer, a chai, or a cup of Brazilian coffee. Mmmm… it’s a cacophony of delicious aromas. I’ll be your virtual bartender; you can call me Chiefy. My granddaughter, Slick, named me that when she was first learning to talk. How cool is that?

falconI am interested in people, in you. What makes you tick? How did you get to be what you are and where you are? What is important to you? Any kind of story can be both entertaining and educational, whether fables, historical accounts, or family legends. As the Doctor said, “We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”*

beaverWhat’s your story? Everybody loves a good story, whether it is factual or pure fantasy. It is a good idea, however, to know the difference. There is nothing wrong with fiction, but mistaking fiction for reality can have undesirable results.

A Good Story

stagIt is important to recognize that there are differences between fiction and real life. A myth may be a reasonable guide for getting through life, or it may not. It may have meaningful aspects, yet contain too much  nonsense to be serviceable. It is important to use one’s brain and one’s experience to filter the good and beautiful from the useless and harmful.

woodpeckerI’ve been told, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you have faith in something.” But there is such a thing as truth. Truth is what is, believe in it or not. The universe is the way it is, whether you like it or not. If you believe things that are not true, you are likely to experience problems, and cause problems for others.

salmonWhen someone tells me a story, I enjoy it for what it is. It doesn’t always matter whether it is true or not. But if I am expected to take action based on what that story conveys, then it matters. I want to know that what I am endorsing is based on reality, and not merely on someone’s agenda.

bearThe good news is that there are ways of figuring out the validity of any story. Have another drink while I go on about some of the things I do to ferret out the truth.


ravenFirst, consider the tone and nature of the story. Is it exactly what you expected or feared? That should raise a red flag. Maybe it was designed to elicit that kind of response from you. What was its origin? If it is from a source that you know has been biased, you can take that into account in your evaluation. Do a little research. Sometimes googling a catchphrase from the story will turn up other versions of the same story in surprising locations.


snakeNext, is the story itself consistent, or does is contradict itself. Is it at odds with other things you know to be true? If it seems just too perfect, too good to be true, perhaps it is not. Also, does it flow naturally? Does the conclusion follow logically from the storyline, or is it a stretch? In other words, does it sound like it was made up to fit a particular piece of propaganda? Maybe it was.


owlFinally, keep your perspective. If the story isn’t true, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up over being fooled. I have been caught more than a few times. You can enjoy a good fake story; just remember not to pass it on as if it were real. Be amazed by the truth and amused by the fictions. Live your own life, and make it legendary.


* Doctor Who, Season 5, episode 13 (of the 2005 reboot).
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