This is just a reminder that your empathy will always be more important, more impactful, and more life changing to this world than your opinion ever will be. Empathy removes confining walls and allows space for healing and understanding. Empathy moves mountains. – Kate Held
In My Opinion, now, more than ever (or so it seems) in this hateful political, intolerant climate, we desperately need to consider the experience of those around us. We all tend to be in our own bubble, just trying to get from A to B as fast as possible and with the least amount of difficulty. For some of us, A and B are fantastic destinations filled with people we love and work that’s important. For some, A and B is barely tolerable and always hellish in the journey and destination.
Putting our feet into someone else’s life is empathy. Some empathetic reflexes don’t require thinking…we wince when we see someone get hurt, for exp. (Unless someone trips in a movie or TV series or my living room, then it’s just an automatic laugh-out-load reflex to me. I cannot control this reaction, it’s guaranteed and loud and probably says more about my base sense of humor than I would like to acknowledge) — But true empathy, requires thinking. I’m fascinated by the people who walk my part of the planet whose work it is to serve me in someway. Fast food servers always break my heart because I know this must be one of the hardest jobs ever. When I encounter a person of a certain age working at McDonalds my heart breaks on the spot and so I genuinely ask how they’re doing and do my best to make them laugh.
Recently I’ve developed an addiction to McDonalds Mocha Frappe’s, in my defense I’ve been ridiculously sick for the last 3 months which is what brought me to order one in the first place. Starbucks was all the way across the street. I was down, exhausted, coughing uncontrollably, and on my way to teach dance. Like a gift from God this phenomenal, delishishness sang to me from that lighted order board in the drive-thru and upon the first sip gave me the will to live I’d been lacking. There is no excuse as to why I keep going back. That is just weak-willed-sloth-like behavior in search of frozen mocha happiness drizzled in chocolate. DO NOT EVER TRY ONE OF THESE. You will live to regret the extra pounds included in each serving.
But, I digress. A couple of weaks (spelled this way intentionally) ago, at the McDonald’s window where they take the low, low amount of $2.16 for a small mocha frappe, I slightly recognized the profile and voice of the cashier. Hesitantly I spoke her name very quietly, in case I was wrong, and yes, it was this old pseudo-friend. She’s now in her 50’s, divorced and I happen to know she lost custody of her kids…and she’s a cashier at McDonalds. This is an irregular person for me, someone I needed to cut out of our lives, but at this moment I wanted to comfort/encourage/respect/forgive her, because this has to be a such tough part of her life. She didn’t let on to me if she was embarrassed to be seen, in fact, she smiled and laughed when she said “Yep! Cashier at McDonalds!” I’m hoping she’s just happy to be getting back on her feet and doesn’t feel the need for empathy.
Our lives collide with peeps living a different life every time we pull out of the garage: the homeless person with a dog on the corner, the botox-ed woman in designer clothes cutting in front everyone else to valet park her Beamer at the Vig, the father of 5 who is screaming and running after each kid simultaneously in Albertsons wishing he’d given birth to goats instead of these small slippery humans, the neighbor who can afford to completely make-over their entire house and yard on a whim, the neighbor who hasn’t even looked at the weeds in their yard in 2 years…and then, there’s our children. Our children have a different world to survive than we, their parents, have experienced. Looking in their eyes, if at all possible (!) and purposefully listening will bring our lives to a level playing field in almost any scenario.
However, today there was another mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA. One of our families favorite places that is home to people whom we love and cherish. The 307th mass killing this year. Three Hundred and Seven. And this is where I find my empathy completely lacking. There are too just too many horrific examples of lifestyles colliding; school shooter, mugger, rapist, angry politicians from any party, slanderous omnipresent political ad’s, large white SUV’s on the freeway in a bigger hurry than I am, and sometimes just coming into contact with our cat’s innate predatory nature is just more than anyone should be able to withstand. I’m thinking that maybe if we knew someone before they became a menace to humanity and animal life, paid attention to their walk on this planet they wouldn’t arrive at the choices they’ve made or perhaps would’ve been moved toward seeking help before hateful words or murder…It’s just a theory and a theory I don’t know if I can achieve. We all have mountains to move, some are Everest, some are really more of a bunny hill. The size of the mountain doesn’t matter, it’s how we speak to it that does. Here in America we have way too many Everests.
My heart breaks on a daily basis lately. Hence this post.
Are you capable of empathizing with ‘irregular people’? Please let me know how.