Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
The world is a big place with many interesting people. There are interesting places, too, but people are more interesting than mere places, even though the geography shapes the inhabitants. That is why I am always interested to learn different life stories. The more meandering and diverse the better, because life on earth strikes me as a pilgrimage home. From birth-to-death we are all traveling home on a road shared with other travelers, seekers and story-tellers.
Mark Rubiner’s story (“Communication skill, beyond language, called key necessity,” October 8) was interesting for just these reasons. I paid special attention to his closing comments that “Communicating with people ... is the key to happiness, to peace, to good life. ... Honest, clear communication is so complex. It’s not just language skills. There are so many people who cannot really communicate, even in their native language.”
I agree with the latter, but only slightly with the former. I’ve been using language since I was a child, and been involved in language education for decades, and my experience is that language is more about decoration than communication. Life is a story. Language helps to decorate the story. We tell our stories only partly with language, but the story is important as a template used to help our minds grapple with things and find meaning in the chaos by providing shape and order. Whether or not the story is factually true is not the key feature. All narratives are manufactured, hence unnatural. We want our life narratives to sound as interesting as possible, even to our own ears and this is what happens when we fictionalize ourselves. Many people eventually come to believe their own manufactured narrative.
I don’t mean that fiction is stranger and more interesting than real life. But all the world’s a stage, and all of us merely players.