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    Tuesday's Thoughts. When Is Silence Needed?

    I don’t know what triggered it, could’ve been the overly dramatic patient I had to deal with the other day, but one of my most influential art teachers sprang from the files of my memory. More particularly it was the story he had told me about being interviewed for a show at a prominent art gallery. The gallery owner had acknowledged that my teacher’s work was amazing and deserved recognition. However, the owner looked my teacher in the eye and asked him what made him controversial.

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    My teacher said something like, “Makes me controversial?”

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    The owner nodded as if what he had said was no big secret. After several silent seconds he further expounded and told my teacher that he needed something controversial about him to help sell his art. Basically, never mind your talent we need something more to get it out there.

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    Right about now, I’m taking a deep breath and slowly sighing. What is it about this need for drama, this desire for controversy that soothes people’s psyche? Thinking about it brings me to this question, if it doesn’t have some kind of shock value, does anyone pay attention? I tend to lean toward the affirmative. I mean look at some of the popular television shows and the over the top storylines that are used to hold your interest. How often have you heard someone say, “Can you believe they did that?” And let’s not forget the news and all those political ads that are vying for our attention.

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    A friend of mine had once told me that some people cannot live without drama in their lives. Maybe it’s just coded into their DNA. Maybe it’s an addiction. Regardless, no matter how quiet, worry free or peaceful they want things, they always find a way to tear it apart.

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    Working in emergency medicine I’ve come across this type of person several times over my career. You might be thinking, well of course you have, isn’t that what the job entails? Yes, there are a lot of drama infused situations that involve both patients and their family. But, what I’m referencing is the actual people I’ve worked with.

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    I’m sure that each and every one of you has crossed paths with a coworker, a boss or maybe even a family member, who has a flair for the drama. I’m talking about the person who’s loud, likes to make their presence known and tries to shake things up. Someone who goes against the rules or the way things are done. Someone who’s quick to play the armchair quarterback and belittle the way someone solved an issue or maybe you've noticed them stretching the truth in order to make themselves appear in a more positive light.

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    Yes, I too have been exposed; well let’s change that because this isn’t a viral pathogen, rather I should say worked with this theatrical-type person. When such a person starts a job, it seems people are immediately drawn to their persona. That person feeds off the praise and recognition and becomes a little more bolder. It doesn’t take long before coworkers become eager to be in their presence. Quick to agree with their views. Quick to see things in the same light as the dramatist does.

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    As time passes their complaints turn toward supervision and the decisions they make. Then it’s the system itself and all the people working in it. Their negativity, their need for attention, grows exponentially. No single individual is safe from their gossip. A manager once told me that nothing brings people together quicker than the belittling of another individual. And yet, it all seems like fun and games until you see how hurt an individual becomes under the weight of such gossip. I’ve been witness those who have broken. To their tears and humiliation. And it only becomes worse when it’s your turn to be on the receiving end.

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    Like I suggested earlier, it begins like a race horse bursting out of the starting gate. And as I watch this person’s popularity grow, experience tells me that it’s all a simple flash in a pan. How do I know this? Time has a way of exposing an individual’s true character; revealing their true disposition. Soon the behavior runs its course. One too many improper decisions are made, anger takes residence and their negativity takes control.

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    If you ask me, the paramedic, nurse, doctor and let’s not forget about all the support staff too, who do their jobs well are the ones who tend to be quiet about it. They don’t go looking for accolades or demand recognition. They take the time to assist their coworkers. You’ll rarely see them complain, gossip or criticize another individual or protest against the things that are required of them.

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    There is no single individual who doesn’t complain at one time or another or find themselves embroiled in some kind of drama. Yet, it’s those who search for it, dwell within it, revel in it, try to make it the norm and ultimately spread it are the ones who have a deep rooted insecurity their trying to hide. In my opinion someone’s true inner strength, true wisdom and true desire to be a decent human being is measured by their actions not their loud shouts or raucous words.

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    I still believe that all of us want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.

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