This I Believe

Elene - Cornelius, North Carolina
Entered on May 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the power of standing still. Granted, this is a fairly rare value in a society of people proactive for what they want and want to happen in the world. The people who are respected in this world are those who go out and get things done. However, the power of being still, solid, constant within the change, is almost equally as strong as being a force of change in the world.

Recently, our theater company put on a production of the Greek play Oedipus Rex. In traditional style, it had the primary characters- Oedipus, Tiresias, Jocasta, etc.- and a large chorus that framed and narrated the play. As I love theater, though I’ve never been a great actor, I ended up in the chorus for the show. As it turned out, the chorus spent most of the play standing stock-still, solid and silent, as almost a living set, only occasionally moving and speaking to form transitions between the action, just to return to our monotonous task of perfect stillness. The primary actors, on the other hand, had the opportunity to move and speak and act freely. This, as expected, led to a certain amount of resentment from the chorus, as we were expected to stand like statues for long periods of time, not even able to watch and react to the action onstage, which was both boring and difficult to maintain, to say the least. There was frustration, even, that we were confined to standing there in our uniformity, not acting, just standing. It wasn’t art, there was no point to us. Suffice to say that we (I can say ‘we’; our individuality was stripped away from us as we stood there, blank-faced, functioning only within the group) we were not pleased.

The shows progressed, and the chorus stood still. Oedipus discovered the truth about his past and the prophecy that governed his life in a whirl of action, while the hard freeze could not be broken- heaven forbid anyone had to sneeze during a show. But still, the chorus resented our position as the boring set. A few months later, though- quite recently, actually- it hit me. Our stillness was what gave the play its power. The chorus was constant, the chorus was strong, the chorus was always present- even throughout the chaos of the play.

Out of the world of an old Greek tragedy, constants can be hard to find. This ever-changing world is one in which action get things done, and standing still is for the old and tired. However, the solid rock in the storm, the strong base on which the change surrounding it is formed, is almost equally difficult to maintain as moving with the change. People need something constant and reliable to keep their grip on the world, something or someone that will not float away at the first chance. This power to stand still is just as important, just as difficult, just as strong, as the choice to change.