Washing machine blues # dilemmas of empathy

Waiting for the washing machine to finish washing, contemplating events of the day. My friend who got denied his application for benefits that I was hoping would pull him out of where he’s been for decades. Disappointment, pain, and some practice in empathy balancing: me getting worried makes it worse for him.

Thinking about empathy, since recently I’ve had the luck to be in some ways better off than some of my friends. My child logic (the way I’ve somehow been doing things since childhood) is to essentially feel what others close to me feel (largely a no-boundary state; state I was apparently born in for some reason and never really changed). The realisation, in recent years, that this both overwhelms me and doesn’t help them.

This is a major opportunity to practise, what seems to my child self a rather cruel and unjustified skill: try to continue feeling best I can, even if I have to remind myself over and over again that this time (per chance) it didn’t happen to me and that this is another life, not mine. Letting the sadness, grief, disappointment pass through me without feeling myself the level of despair that someone probably felt through the night; or perhaps, if I’m built that way, that I simply feel it too – find my feet quickly again in other aspects of life, other times, other places, in the things I have access to now that might pull “us” (since apparently it’s too hard to have borders) up.

Maybe I should give in and say there is oneness, but pay attention to the fact that there is also differentiation, and I, my here and now, can do things that his there-and-then can’t and I definitely should do these things for the benefit of me who is part of the whole and will be sensed by it.

Background track with washing machine.

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