As the new year dawned, I was reminded once again of the clean slate, the blank page, and the importance of stories.

Stories help us decide where to live, what schools our children attend, what meals to make, what restaurants to try, what books to read, what countries to visit, what jobs to take, where to change our tires, cut our hair or exercise our body.

We learn through stories. We communicate with stories. We are inspired by stories.

The poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

Carmine Gallo writes in The Storyteller’s Secret, “Storytellers influence one another to dream bigger and move mountains. The end of one story is the start of another. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, ‘Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.’ Plato meant that the stories themselves create, inspire, and guide others to play the hero in their own life narrative.” Gallo also reminds us that Winston Churchill inspired Mandela and Mandela inspired Oprah and Oprah inspired many of us. Inspiration is contagious.

Oliver Burkeman writes in Four Thousand Weeks about the stories of history and how close they are to our lives today. “The golden age of the Egyptian pharaohs – an era that strikes most of us as impossibly remote from our own — took place a scant thirty-five lifetimes ago. Jesus was born about twenty lifetimes ago, and the Renaissance happened seven lifetimes back. A paltry five centenarian lifetimes ago, Henry VIII sat on the English throne. Five! As Magee observed, the number of lives you’d need in order to span the whole of civilization, sixty, was ‘the number of friends I squeeze into my living room when I have a drinks party.’ From this perspective, human history hasn’t unfolded glacially but in the blink of an eye.”

Lifetimes pass in the blink of an eye. What will we do with our own?

Margaret Atwood said, “In the end, we’ll all become stories.” What story will the world tell about you?