What’s with the fuckin’ drama?

Ten years ago my youngest son was three and sitting besides me in the front of the car on his little baby-seat. I was 20 minutes late for an important presentation for 12 eagerly awaiting important people. My phone was dead and I couldn’t call in to say I was late. I was running 5 red lights in a row, teaching my son a few swear words in the process. When I got to the final intersection, there were three cars in front waiting… on a green light! The light was fuckin’ green and they weren’t moving. I was honking the horn and about to decide to freak out when my son looked at me calmly and said: “Daddy, this is no crisis”.

All my stress inflated like air from a balloon. My body and mind went instantly calm as I turned my head to him and said “You are absolutely right – this is no crisis.” I chilled, ran the car in second gear, whistled a tune, had fun with my kid, parked the car, walked jolly and unseriously into the meeting and completely rocked the room by relating my newfound knowledge. Delivered to me by my son no less. A lesson that has served me well ever since. I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating.

Nowadays I look at the apparently serious and critical situations that seems to abound. When people write to me in fits over something, when business people tie themselves into a not over details, when everyday situations gets the better of stressed-out individuals. I curiously watch when this happens to me. And then I remember my son’s words and decides to instantly chill.

The drama is very seldom warranted. “This is no crisis”.

9 thoughts on “What’s with the fuckin’ drama?

  1. First your title caught my eye and just had to “what’s this” and read.
    What a great story which reminds me of something like “out of the mouth of babes”.
    Best is, that you connected and got it!
    I too have some memories of words and similar conditions that connect, and I remember and use them too. Rather strange isn’t it how when something works, it works! Life is beautiful…

  2. Drama=I have a teenage daughter. Which I do. Guiding her in the way of letting things go and or allowing things to happen around her. Then to observe first what is “really” going on; then take action (or not). My grandmother used to say to me…”this too shall pass”…I have come to the conclusion that “this” wasn’t really referring to the outside activity around but more the internal activity within me.

  3. Sigmund Wollman’s Reality Test
    by Robert Fulghum

    It was the summer of 1959. At a resort inn in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California, I had a job that combined being the night desk clerk in the lodge and helping with the horse-wrangling at the stables. The owner-manager was Swiss, with European notions about conditions of employment. He and I did not get along. I thought he was a fascist who wanted peasant employees who knew their place. I was 22, just out of college, and pretty free with my opinions.

    One week the employees had been served the same thing for lunch every single day. Two wieners, a mound of sauerkraut and stale rolls. To compound insult with injury, the cost of the meals was deducted from our paychecks. I was outraged.

    On Friday night of that awful week, I was at my desk job around 11 p.m., and the night auditor had just come on duty. I went into the kitchen and saw a note to the chef to the effect that wieners and sauerkraut were on the employee menu for two more days.
    That tore it. For lack of any better audience, I unloaded on the night auditor, Sigmund Wollman.

    I declared that I had had it up to here, that I was going to get a plate of wieners and sauerkraut and wake up the owner and throw it at him. Nobody was going to make me eat wieners and sauerkraut for a whole week and make me pay for it and this was un-American and I didn’t like wieners and sauerkraut enough to eat them one day for God’s sake and the whole hotel stunk and I was packing my bags for Montana where they never even heard of wieners and sauerkraut and wouldn’t feed that stuff to pigs. Something like that.
    I raved in this way for 20 minutes. My monologue was delivered at the top of my lungs, punctuated by blows on the front desk with a fly swatter, the kicking of chairs and much profanity.

    As I pitched my fit, Sigmund Wollman sat quietly on his stool, watching me with sorrowful eyes. Put a bloodhound in a suit and tie and you have Sigmund Wollman. He had a good reason to look sorrowful. Survivor of Auschwitz. Three years. German Jew. Thin, coughed a lot. He liked being alone at the night job. It gave him intellectual space, peace and quiet, and, even more, he could go into the kitchen and have a snack whenever he wanted to – all the wieners and sauerkraut he wished. To him, a feast. More than that, there was nobody around to tell him what to do. in Auschwitz he had dreamed of such a time. The only person he saw at work was me, the nightly disturber of his dream. Our shifts overlapped an hour. And here I was, a one-man war party at full cry.

    “Lissen, Fulchum. Lissen me, lissen me. You know what’s wrong with you? It’s not wieners and ‘kraut and it’s not the boss and it’s not the chef and it’s not the job.”

    “So what’s wrong with me?”

    “Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between and inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy”
    .
    “Learn to seperate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night.”

    In a gesture combining dismissal and blessing, he waved me off to bed.

    Seldom in my life have I been hit between the eyes so hard with truth. There in that late-night darkness of a Sierra Nevada inn, Sigmund Wollman simultaneously kicked my butt and opened a window in my mind.

    For 30 years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I’m ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks, “Fulchum. Problem or inconvenience?”
    I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, and lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. Good night, Sig.

  4. Kids sometimes tell amazing things. We as adults are supposed to teach them a lot, but I think that we definitely should be prepared to learn from them too. The more, the better.

  5. Your son was right and proved an astonishing self control. I wonder how old is he now and when will he start to have his own blog 🙂

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