Humans have been interested in sharing other people’s love stories since the beginning of time. In fact, the Bible even begins with one such love story–Eve offering Adam some forbidden fruit. As children, we loved hearing about how our parents found each other while we poured over their wedding album. As teenagers, we wove fantasy after fantasy about each new “love” interest, and as adults, even if we have achieved a love story of our own, we still love to watch a good old romantic comedy.
So what is it about romantic novels, films, plays, etc, that keeps us ensnared after all this time?
“Drama” is a term that has its roots in Ancient Greek. It means to act or to do. In any story that we find ourselves engaged in, whether it be romantic, action, adventure, sci-fi, or country western, there is one thing you can be certain of–the protagonist is someone who had to make a choice to act or to remain the same.
In almost all scenarios, that choice will result in uncomfortable scenarios that will provide the reader with an emotional roller-coaster ride that finally ends with a resolution.
And yes, we hope that the resolution will end up positive, but we know that in all honesty, that does not always happen.
Okay, so what is it about drama that keeps us coming back for more?
I once read this really great article about brains. It talked about how an ADD brain at rest shows a lack of energy, almost as if the brain were asleep. It then discussed how the very same brain experiencing chaos–or drama–became more active.
For me, this made a lot of sense. I was quickly able to understand why one of my son’s had a hard time sitting still or keeping his hands off of his brothers. His brain was literally bored when he was at rest. In order to give his brain a shot of adrenaline, he had to create drama. Unfortunately the drama he created was annoying to his brothers, and maybe even a little bit to his mother, but it did serve it’s purpose–he was soon laughing and running around and full of life, instead of laying on the ground complaining about having nothing to do.
This little insight into my son’s brain helped me to understand myself as well. I like to stir up a little drama myself.
Life will be marching along at its steady pace and suddenly I will realize I am bored. Days, weeks, and even months will go by without a hitch to our routine, and all of a sudden, I am eager to pick a fight.
Why do I keep doing this?! I think to myself when I am in the midst of an argument about something that is really quite trivial.
Well, now I know. Drama. It’s all about drama. I want action. I am just looking in the wrong place for it. An argument is a quick fix–pick a fight and you have instant drama.
But what if there was another way to light up the old brain cells and create instant energy?
It all comes back to the romantic chick-flick, or the Jane Austen novel. Action, drama, and resolution are what we are seeking for when we sit down with a good book, or a bowl of popcorn in front of the television. We want our brain to engage in an emotional roller-coaster that will resolve itself neatly in a short amount of time, with little effort on our part.
We don’t know that is what we want, but it is what we are doing.
Because, it is easier to see Elizabeth Bennett solve her own problems with Mark Darcy than it is to change ourselves. Assuming there is something we need to change about ourselves.
Well, let’s just, for one moment, look inward. I’ll start with myself.
I really like to go on dates with my husband, but, like any lady, I want to be courted. I want to be desired and longed for, and maybe even put up on a pedestal. At one point in our relationship, that is just how it was. But, that was a decade and a half ago, when we were both young and acting out our own love story.
See, that is the key. Action. We were actively acting out our own romantic drama.
One of the things that I think attaches us to our favorite hero or heroine is their desire and willingness to act. So, what if we took on that characteristic for ourselves? What if we became the person who ran through the airport after a lost love, or made the embarrassing speech in front of a crowd of people or…or…or…
The options are endless, but fortunately, I don’t think our own actions are going to need to be that dramatic.
It might simply be something as simple as–I will decide to arrange for a babysitter and a dinner reservation. I will agree to see the action movie this one time instead of huffing and puffing until I get my own way. I will write a secret note or text message to my husband instead of waiting for him to do it instead.
After all, that is what creates the drama in a story–not just the desire to act, but the actual act.
BECOME YOUR OWN DRAMA QUEEN…OR KING
And so, dear reader, I ask you sincerely–what is it you are doing to create drama in your own life? Is it healthy? Perhaps you have a great workout routine, or a monthly reading schedule, or various volunteer opportunities that keep your brain active and engage.
Or maybe you are like me and sometimes you pick a fight here or there. Maybe I need to get a good workout routine to liven things up?! Or perhaps I should set a goal to read the entire works of Shakespeare?!
At any rate, make a choice to become the hero in your own story and become a Drama King of Queen. Seek out new and interesting ways to enliven your life that are positive and worth sharing. Treat your romantic relationship like it is brand new. Look at your home with a fresh perspective.
Whatever it takes to make your story your favorite story!
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.