empathy returns

10.14.2009
as a kid i was the queen of empathy. i could be on a bus with my mom, see a person get on, walk to the back and then sulk into a seat (obviously upset about something in their world) and just watch them... i remember observing without fear of being caught. i couldn't take my eyes off those expressing emotion so openly. situations like this caused me to tear up frequently. my heart was this open box that would try its hardest to consume other people's sadness. for some reason i just felt like i needed to understand what people felt--that they shouldn't experience those feelings alone.

somewhere over the years i lost that ability. i stopped looking at people alone on buses...started feeling more scared to look folks in their eyes...i don't know how it happened, but it did.

most people would shrug their shoulders and say big deal, but i'm an aspiring actress. you have to be able to connect. you have to understand and feel what your character feels in order to be believable. basically you have to be real...and real means believing that we're all bits and pieces of something that needs to be put back together. that's my definition of empathy anyways.

there is a point to this story. last night i watched oprah's interview with mike tyson. a bunch of eyebrows probably went up just now. the man is synomous with monster, fear and ear-biting...i know this. because i know this, i almost turned off the show but then i saw his eyes and i swear something in me broke. i was captivated by how vulnerable and emotional the guy was and in that moment i empathized with mike tyson.

i can't, nor would i want to, control who i empathize with. at the end of that interview oprah mentioned that in learning someone's story we learn about ourselves. if you happen to record oprah awesome. watch it and let me know what you thought. if the dvr isn't your world quite yet, i recommend watching the documentary tyson. i think there's something to be said for what that man discussed in the interview and who he's become. some may think i've fallen off my rocker but empathy is empathy dawlings...

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution--kahlil gibran


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