Which Genre?

If I were to ask you to describe your life, which genre would your story fit into? Comedy, or tragedy?1 Neither? Perhaps some combination of both? Take a moment to pause and really reflect upon this — and then continue reading if you wish.

Notice that I didn't ask whether the events of your life would constitute a tragedy or comedy. Instead, I chose to focus upon your story — in other words the way that you view your life, regardless of the events you've experienced. While the events we experience undoubtedly shape our lives (in a myriad of unforeseen ways), the script we create from this raw material can be powerfully provocative.

From a mystic perspective, the world just is and we are the ones who interpret and wrap meaning around different events. This idea was very difficult for me to digest when I first came upon it and I found it quite repellent. After all aren't things objectively good or bad, with a healthy dose of grey in between?2

Possibly, but not necessarily in the way that many people might think. In my experience, it is incredibly difficult to be completely objective in making judgements of any sort. For most people, the concepts of "good" and "bad" are directly related to their own personal benefit or the benefit of a specific group. Take the time to chew on this if you need to, I'll be happy to wait.

As soon as we evaluate whether something is "good" or "bad", we have placed ourselves in a framework of judgement — yes, even when we judge an event as "funny". Then what can we do? We can learn to take a break from judgement and pause our propensity for storytelling. Meditation is not only about developing concentration, but quietly contemplating and appreciating the lifestream of events as we experience them.

I tend to believe that a full life will naturally have aspects of both comedy and tragedy — provided we give ourselves permission to truly live and spontaneously grow. Then what about things being either "good" or "bad"?

Mystics (myself included) would say that things simply "are". The trick is to let go of labels and trust the Universe enough to embrace the "thusness" or "suchness" ("isness") of the situations we find ourselves experiencing.3

As always, share any questions or comments below!

1 Tragedy in this classical sense is roughly equivalent to the modern concept of drama.

2 I prefer to substitute the concept of "grey" with "color", which — as Goethe so carefully noted — can be viewed as arising from a mixture of black and white.

3 I am not attempting to say that such events aren't painful or that they feel horrible, rather encouraging readers to take a step back from storytelling and conserve their energy in such situations. Such an approach similarly allows one to more fully experience pleasurable events and situations as they arise, free of fear and guilt.