By Jennifer Allison
want to meet a girl with no drama," my son announced recently while helping me with the dishes.
"So you don't want a human then?" I replied. He laughed.
But he's inquisitive by nature. He wanted to know more.
Joey's comment is probably one you've heard spoken or screamed in frustration at least once or twice in your life. Men say it. Women say it. But does anyone really mean it?
There were many times in my own life when I resisted any drama thrown at me. "No drama" was my mantra. But it seemed that the more I denied the drama, the more dramatic my life became. Like a great sea captain, I'd put on my galoshes and weather the storms of my life battling on the deck of my vessel. Now, a bit older and dare I say, wiser, I prefer to accept drama as a healthy and necessary — yes necessary — guide to personal growth. Riding the waves, instead of battling them, has served me well.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not a "drama queen" (whatever that means). In fact, I'm a perpetual optimist who seeks the bright side of things. My relationship with drama has changed from one of disgust to acceptance. I don't mind life's dramas, just the self-inflicted tragedies that follow people with no imagination. Prone to boredom, they generate crises.
It's also been my experience that women are no more "dramatic" then men. It's only in our expression that we differ. When men face less than pleasant, dare I say dramatic, circumstances they tend to brew, sulk and close themselves off. Women instead usually become animated, vocal, or slightly irrational.
But whether it's shutting down or screaming, it's all part of our drama, our learning how to live.
After all, the human ordeal is dramatic. Being alive is dramatic. We age as actors performing a role, and while we're not on stage, the role continues nonetheless. We're literally born into drama the day we leave the silent, warm, darkness of our mother's womb to the cold, bright, loud world. So much so that if a newborn infant could write a story, I'm certain it would be a drama. Maybe even a tragedy.
I know my views about drama don't correspond to the modern norm. But I'd ask you to take time out to read the works of Oscar Wilde, Hermann Hesse, Jane Austin or Rainer Maria Rilke. Each understood the importance of drama, as well as the benefits of feeling its sweep and pain in our lives. I implore you to look further into our past at what great philosophers, academics and sufis had to say about life, drama and the mere act of getting by.
When 13th-century poet, theologian and scholar, Jalal al-Din Rumi wrote his famous poem "The Guest House," he was referring to life, and the drama of living it. In the first three verses of the poem, Rumi asks us to acknowledge our personal dramas and to consider our lives as house that on any given day hosts many emotions. He writes:
"This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
"Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight."
The beauty of Rumi's poem is the transformation of drama — including meanness, depression and sorrow — into something hopeful, the "clearing you out for some new delight." Rumi saw, as most of us choose not to, that life's drama isn't necessarily a bad thing. Quite the contrary, it allows us to learn valuable lessons, and to feel greater joy. And joy itself comes in many forms, often as a surprise, and just as often preceded by drama.
And so, with dishes done and our conversation coming to an end, I asked Joey to consider a life without drama. What that would mean to him, I asked, a classically trained musician and creative soul? What would our lives be in the absence of drama? Would it not be devoid of learning, poetry, art, music and dance? He pondered this for a while. "A little drama" would be fine, he finally concluded, the kind that fuels creativity and the desire to learn more. That kind of drama is better than hearing only what you want to hear, seeing only what you want to see, and living in world void of conflict.
I leave you with one of many dictionary definitions of drama, and the one that most interests me: "Any event or series of events having vivid, conflicting elements that capture one's interest."
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