No Dull PartsAlfred Hitchcock said, “Drama is life with the dull parts left out.”
I have always said that drama is life, period. I say this especially to people who like to moan about how they dislike drama, a notion often heard now in the aftermath of the Internet revolution, since social media allows so many people to interact publicly thereby creating the inevitable “drama”, and making it more accessible; it’s everywhere.
Of course Hitchcock was referring to the stage, but he could have easily been talking about the Internet as well, where so much non-dull activity is created, discussed, and then disseminated, rehashed, and overdone until everyone is worn out.
I think I see drama (as we use the term today) as life, simply because it involves raw human emotion, which can naturally be draining in excess, but is always a result of strong feelings, and since I think it can be argued that we are driven by those feelings (whether we accept that premise or not) then the drama that is created by them is fascinating to observe, to experience. I even think we need it; we crave the human connection created by the drama in our lives.
But most people I believe are so consumed with their own drama that they probably rarely have time to be a by-stander in someone else’s, unless they truly have none of their own to distract them (which is unlikely). More likely I think, is that they are in denial or just very good at ignoring.
So we all have a story, a problem, a feeling that we want to express, and when we express it we are looking for feedback, a reaction, to force another to articulate how they felt when they were confronted with our emotional experience.
“So, tell me what you think?” the writer/storyteller asks:
Was I right? Was he wrong? What should I do? What would you do? It hurts so much. I feel abandoned. I feel sad. I want to die. I am ecstatic! You are not going to believe this! I hate that. That is not right! Do you believe that? I love him. I love this. I want you to do this with me, so we can share the experience. I am scared. I cry. I want someone to hold me and tell me everything is going to be okay. I am so angry I could spit!
Is anyone listening?
Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Deborah is an exceptional psychologist, but she was terribly daunted by this task [working with refugees]. These Cambodians had suffered the worst of what humans can inflict on each other--genocide, rape torture, starvation, the murder of their relatives before their eyes, the long years in refugee camps and dangerous boat trips to the West where people died and corpses were fed to the sharks—what could Deborah offer these people in terms of help? How could she possible relate to their suffering?
“But don’t you know,” Deborah reported to me, “what all these people wanted to talk about, once they could see a counselor?”
“It was all, I met this guy when I was living in the refugee camp, and we fell in love. I thought he really loved me, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin. Now he is married to her, but he says he really loves me, and he keeps calling me, and I know I should tell him to go away, but I still love him and I can’t stop thinking about him. And I don’t know what to do.”*
Drama. It is alive and well in a refugee camp in Cambodia. Now I don’t feel so bad. I feel as if I have been given permission to obsess about my love life, my children, my friendships, the people who come into and who go out of my life—because that is what life IS. To say that you abhor drama is to say that you live a life of denial. And if you find yourself thinking that the drama is manufactured or superfluous, I might say that someone’s feelings are at the root of it all, and maybe some people are better than others at deciphering what is actually going on when they act out to seek attention. I think most drama is the result of pain, loneliness, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, all very sad.
I like drama. I like to watch it on the stage and I like to live it, that is, live without pretense and really feel my emotions. And then if I can find a way to share them so that I can engage others, then we have created our own drama and maybe as a result we have become closer as human beings because we have admitted to one another that we understand that this is what it’s all about.
This is life.
*Eat Pray Love