Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why We Tell Stories - A Different Reason

Riddle: I have a need to get four ounces of a liquid, but have only two measures on hand, a five-ounce one and a three-ounce one. How can I obtain four ounces of my liquid? (You're standing in your kitchen, so there are cups and saucers and pots and pans and a kitchen sink, just, strangely, nothing else that measures.)

We're having a slow-motion blizzard here. Monday morning it snowed. Today it is snowing some more. I had to go to a clinic early this morning for a medical procedure called in infusion – something I do every eight weeks. Driving was bad, but because this is Minnesota, the roads were passable, if slippery. Forgot up upload this before I left. By the weekend, we may have as much as seven or eight inches of new show. Okay, that's not exactly a blizzard, but it's a good deal of snow, even for us.

Part of my revised standard talk (for which I charge a fee, contact me through my web site, Monica-Ferris.com, for more information end commercial) focuses on the human need to tell stories. I found this pertinent quote in an interview: “What distinguishes humans from animals is precisely this need to tell stories. What people seem to want is not to be caught in the shroud of language. Silence for other animals means rest. But the noise that other animals flee is created by other animals. Humans are the only animals that flee internal noise. Humans throughout history, and prehistory, have engaged in all sorts of meditation, either to shift the way they perceive the world, or to produce in themselves, some state of silence, from which something else will come.”
                     - John Gray, Author of The Silence of Animals

I think it's true, that many, if not all, of us find ourselves from time to thinking about something obsessively – especially in the sleepless watches of the night – and wishing desperately for silence. Reading doesn't help me in that plight; as soon as I close the book the worries rush back. Sometimes I can shut it off by working on a plot. I polish characters, introduce complications to the story, try to make the setting more real or complex. I will also turn on the television. My Dad used to fall asleep in front of the TV, but would wake enough to grumble when one of us shut it off. I think now it was a way to stop the hamster-wheel worries of being the father of six with a good job that nevertheless didn't pay enough to support us in comfort.

Answer: Fill the five-ounce measure and use it to fill the three-ounce measure. What remains in the five-ounce measure is two ounces. Pour that into a glass and repeat. You now have four ounces of your liquid in the glass.


Ellen said...

Use the 3-oz measure to fill a glass -- thrice three gives 9. Then pour the glass into the 5-oz measure until it was full. That would leave 4 ounces in the glass.

Linda O. Johnston said...

What often wakes me up, Monica, is a part of a story pounding in my head that I have to jot down so I don't forget it by morning! But, yes, there are also those worrisome or obsessive thoughts there, too.

Betty Hechtman said...

I find when the volume is soft, the TV lulls me to sleep. It reminds me of being a kid at a family party and falling asleep on the pile of coats in a bedroom as the grown ups talk in the other room.