by Rie

Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. -Jonathan Franzen

This is sitting in my head. For good reason.

It makes sense that you’d care about a person’s problems because you’re convinced that said person is more real than anyone else in the world. Following this, that person’s problems are real and his/her emotions are real.

An extension of this, I guess, is that you might not care at all because you’re convinced their feelings are exactly like yours and, so, should be their reactions. It matters not that they are fearful because, darn it, you’ve been in exactly the same thing – walked through the same fire, danced across the same blades, drank the same poisons. What business have they to shy away from pain, licking their wounds as they attempt to mend? You killed the lion while they tried to feed it honey. What balderdash their minds are filled with. Balderdash.

It’s valid reasoning, in a sense.

It is because of the validity of this reasoning that I question the empathy. How are you certain someone understands when they profess to understand? You can’t. And, so, you take their word for it and see if their actions line up with what they say.

With this in mind, it becomes weird when you step outside yourself. You look at the tangled mess of people and the knots they form. You think about your own ties and the necrosis creeping up your limbs where ties should have been cut.

Can you be convinced that they ever thought of you as real? That when the pushing had you teetering at the edge of a cliff, they saw the blackness of the drop as much as you did? That the pity in their eyes didn’t say, “I would’ve made it through the exact same thing unscathed”?

Nope.

So, you loosen these ties and cut the trust. You fortify the walls people once persuaded you to break down. Then, you spend this time thinking and, well, rebuilding…in a manner that suits you more than them.

I think it’s interesting that I slipped into a second-person narrative just there. Anyway, stuff like that (see above) demands a more light-hearted post-script than I can manage, I think.

Baby elephant crossing the road

So, why did the baby elephant cross the road?

I have no clue but look at it go!

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