Empathy & the Lens Through Which We View the World
Featured on The Essential life
When I think about the experiences that I have had in this life & the experiences that I will have, it terrifies me to know that my view of life, the world, opinions & what is right versus what is wrong, is only the narrowest view of such a grand, momentous but finite gift that we have all been given.
A Full Life
As people, we speak about the importance of living a full life ad nauseam. When we speak about a full life & the merits of limitlessly doing, experiencing, discovering & exploring I wonder, is that the measure of a full life?
If so, where is the sense in so many people being trapped in a life with parameters and limitations that prevent them from experiencing fullness? Or are we who are boundless meant to offer assistance to help those who are stuck in the stagnation of circumstance to achieve fullness of life? Is being of service where my own fullness & satiety will come from?
What if a rich & full life isn't the actual pinnacle of existence? What if the pursuit of this paradigm is a futile & vain attempt to assuage the senselessness of a finite & fragile thing that can be ripped away from us at any moment? What if, as an avocation, richness & fullness through experience is an impossibility? After all, if life is a singular event that begins by chance & ends with a return to the dirt, how is it that there will ever be enough time to touch & see all things that there are to be touched and seen?
If experiencing and discovering the world is not the point of life, what is?
Living Life in Uncertainty
Having spent years living inside of myself in self-involved self-assessment, the point of life is something that I have ruminated on at great length. What I have come up with is that we will never have an absolute answer. There will never be a certainty of most things in life, & the point of everything is no exception.
Rather, I believe that we all need to come up with an answer to the overall, overreaching question of "what is the point of life?" that is personal & something that we can accept. I think to ignore this question is to leave a glaring blindspot, but to remain in a state of indecisiveness is a stillness that prevents forward movement & self-improvement.
A lack of decisiveness has always left me in an uncomfortable state of ill-at-ease & this is a place I cannot rest in for long. So I've made up my mind. The trouble with making up my mind, however, is that all my decisions, thoughts and opinions are shaped by the lens through which I see the world, & that lens is the construct of my own circumstance. This is the narrowness of knowledge & experience that leads into questions about the fullness of life & suddenly I've lost clarity in cyclical thoughts of themes too large to be digested.
Empathy & Walking a Mile in Someone Else's Shoes
What if, however, in the cyclical dialogue of thought, lies the answer? What if the fullness of life is the broadness of vision? What if empathy, & the pursuit of walking a mile in someone else's shoes...or better yet, seeing the world through someone else's lens, is the whole point? Is that not the ultimateness of experience? Is there anything more authentic than to touch, taste, feel, smell & see the world through someone so different from yourself, to slip inside their skin & be them in that moment? What experience could be richer?
If empathy is the goal, how then do we achieve it? What if, rather than seeing the world, the lens we used was less physical & less tangible? What if our grand assessments weren't based on sight, but on the subjectiveness of sound & conversations? What if we sought out understanding of the "why" of circumstance rather than focusing our sight on the "what" of a situation? What if the completeness of empathy is just as unattainable as the satiety of the wants of life? Is it not a more worthy pursuit?
Empathy as a Legacy
Is the pursuit of empathy, the repeated trying & failing, not a legacy or immortality in itself? If a situation is approached with the goal of seeking understanding of opinion and actions rather than changing an opinion or action, isn't there kindness in that? I believe that kindness, real & true kindness, breeds further kindness & whether or not people are hallowing your name for generations to come, or are simply better off because of the kindness you have shown them, there is import & significance in that. I believe that in empathy & broadening our view of the world through understanding the circumstances that have framed other people's view of the world, we can experience the fullness & richness of life that we speak about in idyllic terms that make the idea of a finite life palatable.
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