Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fighting and worrying

Most days, I get to see two different styles of being alive in the world.  One is the focused style: these damned bills are going to all get paid!  The other is fretful worrying, as in my baby has a fever and I worry about him.  In today's world, both sexes want everything that is worth having and resist the idea that some fun, inspiring, or profitable activity should be forbidden just because of their sex.  However, it still seems to me that fighting comes more naturally, even pleasurably, to boys and men.  Similarly, since human babies need tremendous amounts of care during their first years and would perish without it, it seems to me that girls and women naturally develop deep empathy for others, just as they would for a newborn.  

Men and boys are inspired (that is, infused with a special or holy spirit) by heroics and the possibility of being a hero.  So, I will crash my tender little body into a wall of angry and rough linemen in the hope of dashing across the goal line carrying an inflated elliptical pigskin, all to impress the little redheaded girl.  Even though she has told me that she doesn't enjoy football and would rather be read to, I may be unable to get an exciting, heroic picture out of my head. You can see how my single mindedness and lack of real empathy for Red's tastes and hopes may indeed work against me.

Still, like just about everything, empathy can be overdone.  It is nice, I guess, to be sensitive but not TOO sensitive.  Here is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor during her recovery from "A Stroke of Insight":

I yearned to be in a place where people were calm and valued my experience of inner peace. Because of my heightened empathy, I found that I was overly sensitive to feeling other people's stress. If recovery meant that I had to feel like they felt all the time, I wasn't interested. It was easy for me to separate my "stuff" and emotions from other people's "stuff" and emotions by choosing to observe but not engage. As Marianne Williamson puts it, "Could I rejoin the rat race without becoming a rat again?"

Taylor, Jill Bolte (2008-05-12). My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey (pp. 82-83). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

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