Some days are harder than others. Or that’s how it is for me.
Truly, I wish I were one of those remarkably consistent people. Especially since I work with young people, consistency would have been not just handy, but logical and just. Alas, I don’t possess it.
On most of my working days, I try to impart some knowledge and occasionally some wisdom to young people. (I say “most days” because my job is as filled with menial tasks as any.)
This week, during one of my dark spurts of opti-cynicism, I tried to explain to my victims the true difficulty of self-knowledge. Bullies never know themselves to be bullies … otherwise, they wouldn’t be, or would they? Everyone, from the serial killer to the rapist, thinks he has a “valid” reason for his actions. Some might understand themselves to be wrong. I really don’t imagine too many serial killers to have a Dexter Morgan-like Kantian Categorical Imperative philosophy to life … but most people do manage to like themselves, don’t they? (Maybe except those who kill themselves — but that’s a different discussion.)
Since it isn’t physically possible to walk around in someone else’s shoes or skin as Atticus explained to Scout, what we are left with, is imagination.
Therefore, sympathy and empathy depend on imagination – and some people have better imaginations than others.
Of course, counterproductively imagination is also the most valuable tool to all those who would rather not feel empathy or sympathy or have themselves weighed down by the hefty realities of the hell which is other people.
I’ve often read descriptions of depression equating it to a feeling of emptiness. It always makes me wonder if patients who use the word “emptiness” or describe themselves as feeling “empty” do not simply lack understanding of the difference between emptiness and futility.
Maybe – as someone concerned with words – this is the equivalent of my resistance to emoticons … because, surely, there must be a word.
Today is just one of those days.
Today I wonder if it is possible to feel empty. Isn’t emptiness a lack of feeling instead? My depression is always brimming … it is a brimming pain. At times the spilling of it brings some relief; spilling is never entirely devoid of danger.
Today I also wonder, what is it like to never be sorry? Those are the people I battle to understand the most: the ones who are never sorry.
Today I marvel at the dubiousness of good intentions – the futility of good intentions. Sometimes, too futile to justify existence.
And most of all, today, I am really left utterly astounded at how self-obsession can be utilised as effectively for happiness as for sadness – yet it seems to be so damn hard to change from the one to the other.
31 March 2017