Disturbing the Peace
Who doesn't love a drama?
My mum was a lover of ‘crime drama’. I’d find on the sofa with her knitting and a gin and tonic watching Sam Ryan performing an autopsy, nice. ‘Mum’, I’d say, ‘why do you watch these things?’
Here I am, years later, having just discovered Silent Witness and limiting myself to max two episodes a night. Two episodes is a complete drama. Starting with an ordinary day, until something terrible happens, then a series of twists and turns, a desperate search for resolution, finishing with a few moments peace and then we are ready for the next crime.
We’re in good company, me and my mum, Patti Smith is known for her absolute love of crime drama, she even arranged for herself to get a cameo as a doctor in her beloved ‘The Killing’.
It’s somehow in our nature to be addicted to drama. Just think about the very first game you played as a baby, ‘peek-a-boo’. One minute they are there, then they’ve disappeared! Confusion, fear, a problem to solve, finally a resolution, a moment’s laughter, then we want it all over again.
As we get older the dramas we seek out are usually just as repetitive. The same argument that we have again and again with our partner. The same crisis of confidence we have in ourselves.
In Chris Niebauer’s ‘The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment’ he talks how this drama plays out differently in extroverts and introverts -
“Some people find a preference for outward drama, that is, drama with other people, while others rely on drama within and we could call this anxiety.”
Recently I’ve been watching this aspect of my mind closely. Sometimes I wake early for no special reason and within seconds my mind starts to look for something that can be a problem, so that I can get involved in solving it. The problems my mind creates have to be either in the past or in the future, because there just are no problems in that moment, I'm lying peacefully in my cosy bed.
Do you really long for peace and quiet?
I think, the truth is, we can’t stand peace and quiet. We tell ourselves we long for it, whilst doing everything we can to disrupt it. In the same way that we couldn’t bear to sit through a film in which nothing really happens, we long for drama in our lives, even when the drama often turns out to be painful.
I think it is a great achievement that I can say, on the whole, nothing much happens in my life these days. I’m with Halldor Laxness when, in Independent People, he says "Some people grumble about monotony, - such complaints are the marks of immaturity, sensible people don't like things happening."
It was on one of those nothing much happening days that I was eating lunch on the allotment with my girlfriend and a big insect landed on her hat. I’d noticed the insect earlier and wondered if it stung but was fairly sure it didn’t. So there in the midst of nothing much happening, a potential drama. I’m about to ‘do something’, to say, ‘oh, there’s a big insect on your hat!’, or to brush it away, but then I caught myself and asked why? Why do you need to do something? So I didn’t, I just continued to eat my lunch and that was it, the end of the story.
I’d wanted, in the middle of a peaceful lunch, to create a tiny, tiny drama. To disrupt the quiet. How many times does this happen in the course of a day, I ‘do something’ when there is no need to do anything at all?
There is a saying amongst meditators, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there!’