You want to make a change. A very small change: You want to have coffee. Coffee is how you start your day.
If you were to have coffee just for the caffeine, you could take caffeine tablets. No taste, no hassle. Just swallow and drink some water. You could drink a shot of an energy drink. It won’t taste as nice, but you’d get the kick. Hell, you could get a caffeine IV! You probably wouldn’t be the first.
Instead, however, you go to a café. You open the door, and there it is: a story.
You look around the place. How high are the ceilings? What’s the architectural style? How is the ambience? Is it a busy place, stirring with the quiet yet excited hum of busy commuters grabbing their latte to go? Is it a morning oasis, where the unhurried read their newspaper as the sunlight falls through big, arched windows, making visible the steam that’s rising from their porcelain cups?
How many people are in the café? What do they look like? Where might they be going? How about the barista? What kind of coffee machine do they use? Which sounds does it make? Do they add up to a vibrant symphony or the scattered cacophony of, say, a manufacturing plant?
You sit down and order your coffee. Can you smell it? Can you feel the warmth of the cup? How about the taste? Is it hearty with a note of hazelnut? Mild like the cocoa powder you used to make hot chocolate with as a child? As you sip on your coffee, a warm feeling flows from your heart. Is it the heat of the drink? The slow buzz of caffeine entering your bloodstream? No! It is the all-powerful, serene, cosmic energy of a story.
You could have made the change mechanically, but you chose to make it beautifully. You could have taken the path devoid of meaning — but you picked the human road of the story.
Coffee is a microscopic change in an infinite universe. Most of the big ones won’t work without a story. There’s no pill to forget the pain of an accident; no cab to the peak of a rewarding career; no tonic to overcome the death of a loved one — but there are stories. Stories to inspire. Stories to heal. Stories to empower. No matter which change you want to make, internal or external, for yourself or for others, there’s always the right story at the right time — you just have to find it or, sometimes, invent it.
In that sense, all writers, creators, storytellers, are baristas. We run the cafés. All day long, we stand behind the bar, pulling levers, pouring milk, polishing cups. We do it for the space. That’s what we provide: a safe space. A space for you to change. You can enter this space at will. You don’t have to. No one forces you to go to their café. You can choose whichever one you like, and you can leave at any time. You can stay out of cafés entirely — but when you feel sad, or frustrated, or bored, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to come back. Maybe your favorite café is a bar, the opera, or a hot dog stand on the moon. That’s the beauty of stories: There are no limits. All customers and all changes served. And if you like none of the cafés around you? Well, then you must open your own one! After all, there’s a story missing from the scene, a safe space someone longs for — and most likely it’s not just you.
Stories are bridges across time and space. They allow humans to connect, learn, remember, exchange, and love throughout the ages. Stories are how humans push forward — and they keep humans pushing forward. Stories are how we change. Stories are how we cause change. Stories are beautiful. Stories are the result of living, and they can make life worth living.
Stories are the strongest force in the universe.
Choose your cafés wisely, but, most of all, choose a life of stories.