Kurt Vonnegut and drama

Derek Sivers once shared a powerful post on drama – his notes from a talk by the late Kurt Vonnegut.

Kurt Vonnegut explained why people have such a need for drama in their life. He said, “People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.”

For example, here’s the arc of Cinderella.

Or here’s a typical disaster story that might show up in the news.

There’s of course the hero journey – ascent, downfall, and the return to glory.

The trouble is that the arc of real life is something like this.

Vonnegut observed – “But because we grew up surrounded by big dramatic story arcs in books and movies, we think our lives are supposed to be filled with huge ups and downs! So people pretend there is drama where there is none.”

I remembered these graphs in a conversation about drama recently. Over the years, we’ve gravitated toward people and environments that also embrace a “no drama” ethos. It follows along the lines of “you never know if a good day is a good day.”

But, it is one thing to appreciate “no drama” and another to understand why we have so much of it around us. I’m grateful to Kurt Vonnegut for explaining it so beautifully.

And to Derek for passing it along.