Dog-eared Days

June 19th, 2012 § 68

A couple of days ago, two of my favorite human beings on the planet shared vows, a kiss, and some cake. They will also share the rest of their lives together.

Days like these are big, sobering, celebratory days. The kind that dog-ear the pages of our lives.

As I was thinking about this—and all the  life-change I’ve witnessed over the past year—I was reminded of a lecture given by one of my favorite professors.

It was about theatre as heightened reality.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the anchor of most successful storytelling is conflict—without it, compelling dramatic performance is hard to come by.

My professor said that what makes theatre so special is that characters have no choice but to stay in the room with the conflict.

In real life, we walk out.

We withdraw.

We avoid.

We shut down. We leave things unacknowledged. We choose what’s easiest in the moment.

But in theatrical performance, if the story is to move forward, if there is to be a curtain call, the characters’ only choice is to stay in the room — conflict and all.

And this makes theatre spectacular.

I think about my newly-wedded friends, and wonder if this principle doesn’t make life spectacular too.

When we stay in the room, when we lean into conflict enough to come out the other side changed people, we live rich, meaningful, compelling stories.

The dog-eared days are those times when we promise to stay in the room. People who look each other in the eye and say, whether we’re poor and sick, or wealthy and well, I will stay in the room with you. I will fight it out. I will let myself be challenged and changed.

But really, it’s all the other pages of our lives—the middle places, the ho-hum chapters, the underbelly of our neediness—where there is room to choose the truly spectacular.

My daily plea is that I would lay down my own cowardice long enough to live a story that’s worth telling, and I’m grateful for friends who are showing me how.

Where am I?

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