Some people like the drama of this story …

I know some people who live on the drama in their life.  I am not a lover of drama.  I once heard about a talk by Kurt Vonnegut where he discussed why people have such a need for drama in their life.   I kept some of the charts. Here are a few of his examples why people think their lives are supposed to be like the stories they read and see:

First, Vonnegut drew an empty grid on the board, like this:

empty grid

Time moves from left to right. Happiness from bottom to top.

He said, “Let’s look at a very common story arc. The story of Cinderella.”

Cinderella story

Look at this crazy life!  She’s working like a dog for her evil step sisters.  She gets an invitation to the ball!  Fantastic!  Then her fairy godmother makes her a dress and a coach and she gets to dance with the prince! Sadly, at midnight she has to go. Back to her humdrum and sad life. But it’s not as bad as before, because she’s had this exciting experience. Then, the prince finds her and her happiness is off the chart. She’s happily ever after (the Pretty Woman story).

“People LOVE that story! This story arc has been written a thousand times in a thousand tales. And because of it, people think their lives are supposed to be like this.”

Then he wrote another:

disaster story

It’s an ordinary day and then something horrible happens. A child falls down a well. The whole town gathers to save her. People work together. The child is saved, and all is well. But notice it’s a little better than it was before, now that this  has brought them all closer together.

Because of all these stories, people think this is how their life is supposed to be. Yet, he says with his next graph, life is really more like a straight line with little changes along the way ….

real life

“But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

Maybe this is why people invent drama.  Why they want to fight.  Why we love sports.  We like the big events.  Are we sometimes trying to make our lives like a story?

Maybe we can (and should) just appreciate the quiet right in front of us and be thankful for its imperfections but its steadiness.  Food for thought as you enjoy your weekend.  Stay warm and safe.

 

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