And yet…

I try not to give advice, aside from the practical kind. I’m not going to tell you how to feel, think or react. I’m not going to offer explanations. I try not to equate my experience with yours. No, I don’t really know how you feel. I know how I might feel in the same situation; or how I felt when I was in a similar situation. But I don’t really know how you feel.

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Many people use these words interchangeably and that is wrong. Sympathy is ‘feeling with’, commiserating. Empathy is ‘feeling into’ experiencing another person’s feelings.

I doubt that there are many people who truly feel empathy; sympathy, yes, empathy, no. I think twins can be truly empathetic, the rest of us –no. I think is arrogant to say to someone ‘I feel your pain’ or even ‘I know how you feel’. You know how you might feel in that situation and while similar, not the same. You cannot physically feel my physical pain. You cannot emotionally feel my emotional pain. You can relate to it by recalling your own physical or emotional pain.

When I write about my feelings or vocalize them I am not trying to elicit sympathy. I am putting them outside myself. I want to see or hear how I feel in a detached, third-person way. When they are ‘over there’, away from me, I can see them for what they are. I can detach from them and analyze them and come to terms with them. And if they represent a problem, I can try to find a way to solve that problem.

You can understand what I am saying/feeling without feeling it yourself. You can sympathize because you may have faced a similar problem/situation. Or you can not. We do not all react the same way to similar situations. I can get myself tied up in knots and you may think “How is that even anything to bother about”, in which case even sympathy is off the table.

I dislike the phrase “It’s not all about you” It is selfish, self-centered, arrogant and demeaning. Your feelings, your life – hell yes, they are all about you. I am discounting the drama queens of life in this. You know those people, you cut your finger and they react with “You got blood on my new shirt” Those marvelous people who must make everything about themselves. It’s a wonderment to listen to and they deserve to get smacked with “it’s not all about you’.

I don’t want sympathy or empathy. Understanding? Perhaps. More like other people knowing me a little just as I am always trying to know myself a lot. Is there hubris in wanting to understand myself; why I do and feel and think in the ways that I do?

I don’t need you to sympathize or empathize I just need you to know me a little better. I think we all want to be known. It’s a matter of ‘don’t walk in front of me or behind me, walk next me’.

Trying to figure out who and what and why I am, is why I write.

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It's not just that I am old

but my personal tastes and preferences keep me ignorant of what’s popular in the general population.

I was doing the crossword puzzle and there were clues involving the movie “Frozen” and the television show “Game of Thrones” – I don’t know-jack all about either of them.

So many things I have no knowledge of because they never registered in my world.  And they are constantly showing up in crossword puzzles.  I may have to stop doing crossword puzzles.

Anything child related after, say 1955 – I know nada about.  Sesame Street? I was 23 when that come on. Dr. Seuss? my brother, who is 7 years younger than I, had those books. I never read them. Mickey Mouse and anything Disney – never interested me. Sure I watched the Mickey Mouse Club on tv but the only thing I remember is Jiminy Cricket and the only way I can spell ‘encyclopedia’ is to sing it.

Animated movies? I hate them. I hate anything animated. I’m just not a cartoon person. Never was. Never will be.  I can name some cartoons from when I was a kid but to tell you the truth my father watched more cartoons than us kids. There were a lot of cartoons when I was a kid, in the movies and on tv – they just never captured my imagination or attention.

Cowboys and westerns – ah – those I know a lot about.

Since I never had children, or consequently, grandchildren – any references to anything Disney, animated or child-centered – totally off my radar. Don’t know, don’t care.

Music? I think I checked out during the disco era. Rap music? It started in NYC so I was exposed to it long before the rest of you. Didn’t like it then, certainly don’t like it now.

No ‘music’ to it (bidda bada bidda bada bidda bada bidda boom – WTF?) The lyrics are profane, and inane. Yeah, Yeah, I know lots of old rock and roll lyrics are simplistic and grammatically offensive but damn, honey you could dance to the music!

Television? We had one in 1949, I was 3. I grew up with television and yet, when I got my first apartment I put the tv on a rolling cart and stored it in the closet. One time a friend came over and wanted to catch a sports game. I hauled out the tv and it didn’t work.  He asked how long it had been broken and I couldn’t tell him. Months probably.

I stopped following sports some time in 1980’s.

Of course a biggie in crossword clues is “The Simpsons” – I came across the Simpsons when it was a 5-minute short on the “Tracey Ullman Show” – didn’t like it. Don’t know one character from another and I could not care less.

Movies – another big gap in my knowledge base. I haven’t been in a movie theatre in a good 15 years. Don’t watch many on tv either. Anything longer than 90 minutes and I’m gone off to find something else to do.

I’m pretty much up-to-date on technology. I know what’s out there, tho I’m not sure why it’s out there. Social media – bleah. I have no idea of what utter use Twitter is. That one really has me baffled. Totally.  Facebook? Okay, I use it – not for much, and I read more than I post.

All the other apps and crap – I don’t understand why people want to put all their shit out there on the street. And then complain about privacy, stalking, bullying et al. I am forever deleting what I post on the internet. Yes, I know it is still there if you dig deep enough but I regularly Google myself and it seems I have a very small internet footprint.

You know what’s bugging me a lot right now? There is a word or phrase for current general cultural knowledge and I can’t think of it. It’s a phrase like ‘social media’ but, you know, I know that one.  And it’s not an old-timey phrase (I don’t think), it’s recently coined. Someone help me here.

And no, no, no – yelling is not singing! I’m talking to you Barbra Streisand and Idina Menzel and anyone else who is loud and inarticulate and sings through their nose. (I just had to throw that in because I clicked on a video of Menzel singing some song from the ubiquitous phenomenon called ‘Frozen’ and I could not understand one. single. word. And if I could write how nasal singing sounds I would.)

And while I doing this whole “the world annoys me” thing – I hate the color pink; it is wussy. And I never wanted to be a princess. Oh yeah, since it didn’t come up before – I don’t get “Barbie” either. Not only did I not play with dolls as a child, Barbie was after my time, so to speak.

It’s really a good thing I never had kids, they would have been socially ignorant little dweebs.

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