An Open Letter To Those Who “Didn’t Sign Up For The Drama…”

A funny thing happened when I declared myself a writer in my 40s.  I found a voice that will not be quieted.  I have a need to write what I observe.

Coincidentally, there are many other 40-ish folks I know these days who’ve declared, in one way or another, that they “didn’t sign up for all the drama.” In the words of a writer friend of mine, I say to these drama-phobes, “check yourselves before you wreck yourselves.”

They didn’t sign up for all this drama.  Really?  What DID they sign up for? Canoeing on glass-smooth lakes? Porch swings that never need oil? Marshmallows perfectly browned at all times?

I find this interesting on so many levels.

Is it possible to opt out of the drama and live the life you thought you’d lead? Apparently, many people in their 40s think they can…or at least think they deserve to.  But, does anyone really “sign up” for something and get what they expect?

Like the child at sleep away camp who splits her head open, accidentally, on a metal bunk bed. Or the parents whose son is diagnosed with incurable leukemia or childhood diabetes?

Like the woman whose instincts tell her that her husband needs help when he’s chosen to sail on a stormy day, then heads out on her own boat to rescue him?

Like the couple who leave their dog with the neighborhood kids, only to discover the dog bit one of them?

Like the husband who realizes his formerly organized and energetic wife is overwhelmed with tasks and children and, consequently, feels neglected and ignored?

Like the seventeen-year-old whose 5th cervical vertebra is broken in a wrestling accident in P.E. class?

Like the mother in the delivery room whose baby is twisted so awkwardly inside her womb that it takes hours of pushing and crying and tearing and pain?

The drama is never expected. Or wished for. Or “signed up for”.  It is what it is.   It is real. It is unavoidable. It happens. It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s unpleasant. It’s painful. It is life.

Surely, there are some who seek more drama than others.  Or who court more drama than others.  Some find it a thrill.  Some avoid it like the plague.  But it’s always there, waiting to appear.  It’s how we face it and embrace it, in all its unpredictability, that makes us who we are.

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2 responses to “An Open Letter To Those Who “Didn’t Sign Up For The Drama…”

  1. Dear Christine,
    I would hope that these forty-somethings are saying “I didn’t sign up for the drama” with a sense of irony — because if they’re serious — they seriously don’t understand life, and will never realize what people have known for millennia and is evident in the cliches we so often hear (they wouldn’t be cliches if they weren’t a sort of truism, said so often, they become worn out): life is yin and yang. Life holds no promises. Life is not a bed of roses. Life is not a bowl of cherries. Life is part what we make it and part what “happens while we’re making other plans.” Life is “slings and arrows.” As a writer, I recently read Robert McKee’s book “Story,” in which he explains how to create great story. We all know that conflict is the essence of story. The protagonist must face conflict and overcome greater and greater obstacles along the path to his goal. Some stories work out positively for the character — some not so great, some not at all. But I was struck by this comment by McKee (Paraphrased): “Some people say, ‘Wouldn’t life be great without conflict.’ “That’s not life. That’s a fairy tale.”

  2. very wise Christine…. it’s how we handle the drama that moves us forward.

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