Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Drama, Drama, Drama

My Dear Reader,

I suppose that you could say that as the daughter of an actress and the grand daughter of a theater director, I have a definite flare for the dramatic. It's certainly true that I love good stories, the best having a mix of passion and conflict that gives great insight into the human condition. One of my favorite things in this world is a good, dramatic story, whether it's in the form of a poem, a play, a book, a movie, or even a song. When I was young, I used to take the dramatic elements from my favorite stories and pretend that I was in the middle of it, that I was another character in the mix. I have found over time, however, that most of the dramatic elements you read or watch in a story are best left to fiction.

I'm in kind of a strange set of circumstances right now. I graduated from college and am trying to start a career at the worst time for careers since 1929. In the mean time, I go to church in a congregation that is composed, by design, of single adults ages eighteen to thirty. I was in a similar congregation in Utah, when vast the majority of us were all going to the same college or at least some college, but here the personal circumstances of my churchmates are as varied as they can be. Some are going to the local community college. Some are teachers, accountants, and in other very noble professions. Some are recently divorced and are trying to put their lives back together. Some have yet to get their lives together in the first place. I stand in the middle of it all, having no idea where my life will end up and, even worse, not really knowing where I want it to go. I can't help thinking that the whole scenario would make for a great BBC mini-series, especially if we all wore Victorian costumes and described ourselves as "ill-used" or "in distress." Let me tell you, there's plenty of story in here to fill up the time, and I've been an unwilling part of it all.

For example, let's say that this mini-series starts out where the Heroine falls on an unfortunate circumstance, such as losing a job or being unable to find one. Heroine feels lonely and hopeless until along comes Friend 1, who invites Heroine to several social activities and introduces her to Friend 2 and Friend 3. The four people start to form a group, spending time together on a regular basis, until Friend 1 leaves to go back to college and Friend 4 and Friend 5 come back from the same institution. While the Heroine is still trying to find her way back on her feet, she starts finding out things that begin to change the very good social arrangement that she has.

It turns out that Friend 4 and Friend 2 suffer from mild mental illnesses such as depression or bi-polar disorder. In addition, Friend 3 just got out of a very, very unfortunate and heart-wrenching relationship, while Friend 5 is almost buckling from extra pressure from her place of work. At the same time, Heroine finds out that both Friend 3 and Friend 4 have romantic feelings for her, though she doesn't reciprocate them, and Friend 1, the person that Heroine actually has feelings for, has started dating Friend 5 long distance. And if the fact that Friends 3 and 4 have started fighting over the Heroine isn't enough, into the pot comes Friend 6, who helps the Heroine get over her hurt feelings from Friend 1 by liking her back. Of course, since they all care about each other, the Heroine feels guilty about dating the guy she likes because she knows it will hurt Friends 3 and 4, who are both emotionally unstable and would be very hurt by Heroine's decisions. It seems that whatever the Heroine does, most everyone will be upset at her, and if she does nothing, everything will just get worse.

So that's the kind of story that I'm living in now. Of course, I fictionalized the above account enough to avoid putting anyone I know into a box, and I can tell you that I've played more than one character in the whole mess. I wish I hadn't. As much as I love reading twisted plots from Dickens or Austen, I find that getting tangled up in all of this drama has been distracting me from figuring out where I'm supposed to go. I wish I could edit this drama like I would one of my stories, going back and deleting some of the careless things I've said as well as some of the poor choices I've made. Sometimes I just wish I could take myself out of the story altogether, and put me instead in a story where I have obstacles that I understand and a clear goal that I can achieve.

It's true that what's happening isn't exactly the stuff of legends or great epics. No one in my story has so much as a bad intention, and I'm sure I'll look back at this some day and think that my present feelings are very petty. Something I've learned, though, is that while we're all the authors of our own destinies, we're authors that don't have a privilege of revision. We can't go back and change what we've written, and as our stories collide with those of other authors, we often find our choices ending in unexpected consequences that we couldn't have foreseen.

I just wish that I could do what I normally do when I read a book: flip to the end and read the last few lines to make sure that it all turns out okay. Truth be told, it's always the end of the story that matters, and after I've analyzed my story like my literature teachers taught me, I hope that I have the ability to make this end well. Here's to hoping.

Regards, best wishes, and peaceful days,

-Cecily Jane

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