On Narrative Density

What is a ‘calling’?  How did Trump get elected?  Why are breakfast tacos so good?  What is it about the song “Take on Me”?

I think the answer has to do with Narrative Density – which, in short, means how much story is packed into any given topic or thing.

Narrative Density behaves like Physical Density - the more dense, the more gravitational pull.  Denser objects have more pull - the earth has more pull than a grapefruit, so the grapefruit naturally “falls” toward the earth.  The same goes with stories.

If you feel ‘called’ to leave your job as a talent agent and become a social studies teacher – then you are being pulled toward something more narratively dense.  Teaching is thick with reference points and living images that have helped create your identity. Mr. Warbler, your history teacher in 8th grade had you dress up like Thomas Jefferson – including a wig – and it was awesome.  Mrs. Kurcheck was totally resistant to teaching American History from a Native American point of view – and it was offensive to you.  You read a book last year about the influence of the Irish in world politics. You love plaques.

Therefore teaching is more narratively dense than being a talent agent – which is also narratively dense, just not as dense for you.

I believe narrative density is at play with everything in our lives.  Clearly picking a life partner is balanced on the density of your future spouse’s stories – but choice of favorite food, music, decorations, holidays, furniture, opinions on everything – all of it – is also deeply and often unconsciously motivated by narrative density.

So a potent first step in storying and storytelling, is to see our own stories more clearly.  What is narratively dense for us?