So yesterday was Mother's Day. This particular day in May comes once a year where we honor our moms and thank them for all they've done. All my life, I had never really thought TOO much of this psuedo-holiday. That is until Mother's Day 2012. That's the year I no longer had a mom to celebrate with. It was then that I realized how freakin sad this day is for all of those without a mom. So much mom day merch and propaganda! Almost every single email I got yesterday was about what to get mom. Every single store had a particularly exuberant floral section. Every advertisement on tv was mom, mom, mom ( at least I'm assuming so... I don't have a tv). It seems as though these companies don't realize how their targeted advertisement effects those of us NOT wanting to be bombarded on this solemn day. Anywho, I'm sure some had it emotionally worse than me. I'm a pretty tough cookie. I will however say that it made me truly get the difference between empathy and sympathy.
These two words have always been seemingly interchangeable to me. I knew there technically WAS a difference, but I probably didn't care to learn and remember. I'm not typically the most compassionate of people, so I never really thought I displayed any empathy OR sympathy. I just don't have the gene! The events of yesterday however, gave me quite a different outlook. I realized that people with moms on Mother's Day have no idea what it like not to have one. How can you? I know after the first year it happened, probably all of my friends didn't quite know how to interact with me. Understandable. It's probably not something the average person even wants to think about. I'm now aware that I do have empathy for everyone who has lost a parent. It's like a weird little club that can instantly connect me with others in the same situation.
To help me remember the difference between empathy and sympathy, I loosely equate it with understanding and listening. Sympathy is merely listening. Which is fine in some situations, don't get me wrong. Empathy is actually understanding. Putting yourself in the shoes of the other person, and really feeling what they feel. It's a tough to take on the emotional weight of another. We all have our own crap to deal with! This is why empathy, in almost every regard, is often overlooked. I need to work much more on having more empathy for others. I need to become the change I seek. It's much easier to teach than do for me. And that's terrible!
Empathy isn't just about sad things either. I realized this one day this past week while riding the subway. As most of you know, I am very easily annoyed. More so on the subway than anywhere else. While I was riding to the city one night...calm and collected, trying to wrangle my ever scattering thoughts, a group of young, LOUD, rowdy boys got on the train. Right next to me! Ugh, was my immediate thought and attitude. They continued to carry on as if no one was around but them. I had an urge to move to the next car. However, since at night the train goes molasses slow, I was stuck for a while to reevaluate my situation. I analyzed what it was exactly that made me so annoyed. Was it because they were laughing loudly and having fun? Yes, yes it was. But why was I mad at a group of YOUNG people having fun? When I was young and hanging with my friends, was I not having fun? We seem to forget how we act in certain situations when we see others acting in those same situations. I shouldn't be annoyed with kids for having fun! What kind of Scrooge am I? I immediately calmed down by simply putting myself in the shoes of the annoying boys. It's all about perspective people. Seriously, everything in life. Perspective.
Honestly, it will take a while for me to completely emerge myself in empathy for the world. But that's ok. In life, we have nothing but time. We just have to decide what's most important to spend that time on. I believe my time is best spent in deep thought. That way, I can continue to share all my findings. This week's findings proved to be very helpful to me, so I hope that you too will take into consideration the viewpoint of another.
P.s. This blog was originally gonna be about propaganda in general. But perhaps I'll save that for another week...
P.p.s. Sympathy is much easier to have because it's so fleeting. I can attend a funeral to support a friend, yet go to the club afterward! But true empathy would be to hang with them all day, and be there in case they need anything. Ya know?
P.p.p.s. Here is a little bit of Bretony propaganda, and another May Day! It's my birthday this month, and this is my first time making an Amazon wish list! Browse if you like!