Can you hear me bouncing down the stairs? Crash, crush, squish, boom… First the sound of my skull hitting the wall, then my elbows cry against the merciless edges and the joints of each flailing connection pop and plop. Down, down, down, the body a gibbering ragdoll, wordless scream that sounds like a distorted cartoon jingle.
Can you hear it now, as I fit semantic symbols to my pain?
Or are you too engrossed with your navel bowlful of hisses, sighs, shrieks and squeaks?
The sounds of my dying are lost inside the swirling noisome vortex of your own surviving.
Empathy is an Endeavour. An arduous journey of Self-to-Other. Not prancing posturings of hugs, kisses, toothsome smiles and fulsome dishes.
Empathy is costly to undertake. An awakening of Self-and-Other. Not fluttering choreographies of social-focused Theory of Mind, canned laughter, winsome chatter, capricious largesse and flying magic charity carpets that stall in mid-air during inconvenient turbulence.
Empathy is picking up the shattered shards of my bones and blobs of bloodied flaccid flesh from the bottom of the stairs, after your broken toe pushed me over in an impersonal act of pain-reflex. Not an emotional equation. Just a literal sensing of resonance, carrying my vibrations on your skin.
Empathy is a determined commitment. Not an innate talent that runs on auto-pilot. Not happy little enterprises when your engorged heart is brimming over with the milk-of-charity.
And Empathic Friendship is a conscious choice. It is limping along and offering your hand to the hurting Other even when metacarpals and metatarsals are jangling out violent operatic arias of agony inside your shivering shuddering scaffolding of Self.
Choosing to practice empathy is rare, even among those who pride themselves with goodly social benevolence. And Empathic Friendship is even more scarce. Especially when the exercise doesn’t bring any obvious benefits to Self. Endeavour of Empathy ceases when it dares to challenge the fragile frameworks of Self Preservation.
Move Over Sally Ann!