Culture

Lee Eisenberg on The Power of Storytelling


Here on Inside Chic, we are big believers in the power of storytelling, whether by words, images, or even clothes. We spoke to author Lee Eisenberg, the former editor-in-chief of Esquire (and also the former Chief Creative and Marketing Officer of Chico’s FAS), about his intriguing new book, The Point Is: Making Sense of Birth, Death, and Everything In Between. The book is a fascinating meditation on how we create our “selves” through the stories we tell about who we are, and how we go through life expressing our sense of self in a number of different ways. We asked Lee about how we go about turning ourselves into that lovable character called “me”:

Q: How does our story, invented by us, make us who we are?

A miraculous thing happens when we are about three years old. Actually, two miraculous things happen almost simultaneously. One is that we develop the capacity to collect memories. The second is that we learn how to create a story out of our memories. The story lives in our head. We know it as “the story of my life.” It’s through this story that we make sense of our own experiences and life in general. My book describes the process in what I believe is an engaging and personable way.

Q: What do you mean when you say that we invent who we are through telling our story?

If I were ask you to tell me your life story it would have many of the elements of a story on paper, or a novel. You could tell me what your turning points were, what the most important chapters have been. You could go into great detail about the leading character— that would be you, of course.

This leading character evolves over time: goes to grade school, then on to high school, etc.  She goes to work, enters the workforce, may get married and raise kids. Throughout the plot, the character changes emotionally and physically. All kinds of supporting characters, and some really major characters, enter and exit the story. Through it all, we go through life trying out different “selves.”  There’s your “self” as a child, teenager, young adult, all way through midlife and beyond.

The question at the center of the book is, What does it take for that story to add up? To be meaningful at the end of the day? It’s a question that we’ve been asking ourselves since the beginning of time, of course. But I think I discovered an interesting new way to think about it— a fresh perspective on how we explain ourselves to ourselves.

The Point Is

 

For more on Lee Eisenberg’s The Point Is: Making Sense of Birth, Death, and Everything in Between, please visit LeeEisenberg.com.

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2 Responses

  1. I wish I had read Lee Eisenberg’s, “The Point Is,” 25 years ago. We all define ourselves to others by the stories we tell and this book helps us to see the richness that is possible in our lives, for us. It gets you thinking about how to shape your tale so that you can choose, more wisely, the words and images that become one’s own legacy. Thank you Mr. Eisenberg.

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