I have always enjoyed the dramatic arts.
When I was a lad, my mother took me to see plays, and I was fascinated by the ability of the actors to suspend reality by reaching beyond themselves to create something new.
When I was older, I took a drama class in school. I was not destined to be a thespian, but the experience gave me some insight into the way actors work together to create a scene.
Being a witness to drama, especially live drama, can be a powerful experience. It can change our understanding of the world and allow us to see things from a perspective other than our own.
I have never, for example, been part of a persecuted class, but I remember the tension and desperation (and, strangely, optimism) of the Frank family, and I felt the fear they felt when the Nazis came for them in “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Decades later, I still remember the sound of those Nazi boots stomping up the stairs to the Franks’ hiding place. Good drama can do that.
There is the good kind of drama, the kind that can lift us up and make our lives richer, but there is also bad drama.
I was reminded of this recently when one of those rare pearls of wisdom bubbled up from the Internet and landed on my Facebook page.
It was a little snippet that suggested there comes a time when we must let go of pointless drama and the people who create it, and surround ourselves instead with people who make us laugh so hard we forget the bad things and focus on the good, on the grounds that life is too short for us to be anything but happy.
This, for me, was not a new discovery, but for anyone who has not yet figured it out, I can recommend it as an excellent piece of advice.
We all know people like this. I call them the POD people, because they turn every situation into pointless overblown drama (POD), and people who do that should be avoided at all cost.
I don’t know why they do it. Perhaps they crave attention. Perhaps their mothers didn’t hold them enough when they were young. Perhaps they think if they create a scene every time someone asks them to do something, people will stop asking them to do things, and their lives will be easier.
It must be more than seeking attention or avoiding work, however. The POD people make a big deal out of everything.
The most minor inconvenience becomes a tragedy of epic proportions, of the sort Dostoyevsky might have written on one of his bad days.
When POD people are involved, answering a simple question or solving a trivial problem becomes a major production.
In the hands of the POD people, everything gets the Cecil B. DeMille treatment.
If a POD person has to walk across the room to get a glass of water, he will make it sound like a bigger deal than Moses roaming around that desert for 40 years.
In the workplace, a POD person will give a rendition of Hamlet’s soliloquy during every meeting, and convey the impression that the future of the company hangs in the balance with every decision.
Likewise, when it comes to the ordinary everyday activities that most people would breeze through without a second thought, the POD people will wring their hands in anguish and act as though the future of mankind depends on the decisions that are made in the next five minutes.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if the POD people kept to themselves.
Unfortunately, they suck the energy out of all those around them.
They impede progress by turning every situation into a scene.
Like that kid who hollered wolf, they draw attention away from things that may be important by forcing others to focus on things that probably aren’t.
Drama, in its proper place, can be a beautiful thing, and we are fortunate to have access to an abundance of amateur and professional theater options when we need a dose of that.
Pointless, overblown drama, on the other hand, is a buzzkill of the worst kind, and we don’t want to encourage that sort of thing.
If our goal is to lead happy, relaxed lives, we should make it a point to avoid the POD people whenever possible.