Drama Queen

actor-975726_640Anyone who has survived raising teenagers is well acquainted with drama.  The more traditional belief is that it relates to girls more than boys, but I think this may reflect the view that what females express is “dramatic” and what males express is daring, courageous, going out into the world and achieving success, or just taking charge in a manly fashion.

Calling someone’s feelings or behavior dramatic is often a way of trying to lessen its power or indicating that it is somehow not valid.  “Don’t be so dramatic!” we may tell a sobbing girl who has just found out that her best friends went to the mall without her.

I am pretty sure that most women my age grew up with the message that we are “too sensitive” or “too emotional”  to make it in the “real” world.  In the 1940’s and 50’s, it was very clear that no woman could ever serve in the armed forces, run a company, compete in sports, or become president.  Even worse would be that “time of the month” when she would be incapable of making a rational decision because of her out-of-control hormonal imbalance!  I have to confess that this idea did turn out to be useful to me since we were allowed to skip physical education classes if during roll call we answered “regular.”  (No proper young lady would have spoken the word menstruating out loud at that time.  Even saying “I have my period” would have been scandalous.  But for someone who always felt like a complete klutz in gym class, it was a handy way out.)

Not that I am knocking the power of hormones.  Ask anyone who had to live with me while I was adjusting to menopause.  I am truly grateful it happened at a time before everyone had an iPhone readily available.  I would be subject to serious blackmail if any of my worst episodes had been recorded for posterity and would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere apologies to anyone who still suffers nightmares resulting from any of them.

However, one of those screens that still lingers in my window on the world is the one that tells me that ladies don’t make a fuss.  When we encounter something unappealing, or even downright dangerous, we certainly do not scream, swear or counter attack.  We do not even politely and calmly express our displeasure.  Instead, we figure out ways to adapt our own lives to the situation and work to make everyone else feel comfortable and accepted.

Unfortunately, this approach has not served me well.  I suspect it ultimately didn’t even serve those who seemed on the surface to benefit from it.  Lately I have been studying people who are clear about what they want in life, but who are also generally kind and compassionate toward others.  I realize that it isn’t necessary to be obnoxious or overly dramatic about what I want.  But it is necessary for me to be clear on my own boundaries and make conscious and good decisions about my own life.  I’m not so sure about this approach yet, because even though it’s late in the day, I’m just beginning to feel like a grownup.  But a word of warning–if it doesn’t work, I will revert to being a drama queen.

 

Lost Sanctuary

Just yesterday I became aware of a component of the new craze–Pokemon Go.  As I understand it, certain places where Pokemon (Pokemen?) need to be captured are inside buildings such as a library, museum or place of worship.  Since these are considered public buildings, it is not possible to refuse entry to someone simply because they are playing the game.  I am not certain I understand it completely or that this information is accurate and perhaps someone who is familiar with the game can set me straight. (That would be assuming they would somehow consider this post a more valuable use of their time, however, which is probably highly unlikely!)

This information was shared during a Board Meeting at my synagogue and started a conversation about how we might respond if players come into the building during religious services or school sessions.  What about during a wedding or funeral?  It isn’t that we expect anyone to be purposefully disruptive or that most people wouldn’t be respectful of what was occurring at the time.  But it did start me thinking about sacred spaces and ritual, and whether in our modern world we have lost the concept that there are places that should be held apart from everyday secular activities.

big-tree-1034394_640In the Hebrew Temple, only the High Priest was able to enter the most sacred inner chamber, and it was only there that the name of God was spoken aloud. Sanctuary in Christian cathedrals existed because they were considered sacred and worldly powers had no authority in that space.  Native peoples have identified certain areas of the earth that are sacred.  Most cultures consider places of burial to be sacred.

Humans can create and recognize spaces that are sacred. Even separate from traditional religious thought, the concept that there are places where we can be free of the constraints of everyday life, where we can find refuge and safety is a powerful one.

When I was a young girl, my sanctuary was a massive old pine tree, probably at least 50 years old, possibly more.  At one time it had been struck by lightning and the top of the tree had been sheared off.   This left a bowl shaped area with massive branches upon which I could lie back and watch the clouds float by.  I was safe there.

Is there any connection between our modern inability to recognize and protect sacred places of sanctuary and the increasing lack of compassion and disconnectedness that plagues our nation and the entire world?  I don’t really know, but I wonder…..