One would hope that the story we are living is as interesting as the ones we are watching, reading or listening to. Let’s face it— probably not as sexy or action-packed, but if we stop to consider, probably as filled with the full Shakespearean range of tragedy and comedy, triumph and tribulation, conflict and resolution. Without the dramatic soundtrack.
But no matter how interesting our actual lives are, don’t we love to be wholly immersed in another story? Be it TV, movies, books or even podcasts, stories give us relief from our own mostly predictable plot with the same old characters, allow us to enter another world and imagine ourselves as part of it, invite us to find a piece of ourselves in the struggles and redemptions. What appears to be mere trivial entertainment can stretch further, especially if we consider the root of the word— “entre” meaning “among” (as in entering a room to be amongst other people) and “tain” from “tener—to have, to hold.” And so the sense of holding each other in mind, sticking by each other and supporting as we come to know ourselves by entering the stories of others.
So starting in my Chicago hotel room, I hooked into a too-short Netflix series called “The Chair” about a woman (Sandra Oh) becoming head of a Humanities Department in an established Eastern college. And within six short episodes, a multitude of discussion-worthy themes emerged— the conflict between rising women and privileged men, people of color and the same-old-white folks, older traditional teachers and young hip ones, different parenting styles, the toxic atmosphere of legal pressures and legal responses to human problems, the overpowered and misguided face of well- intentioned political correctness. Entertaining it was, but for me, deadly serious about these issues that deserve a lot of thought and honest conversation.
Anyone want to watch it and start a discussion group? I’m in!
PS One of the many good moments was someone suggesting a teacher must be good because she had 8,000 followers on Twitter. Her colleague responded, "Well, Jesus only had 12 followers. I guess that makes him a loser."