I'm an empathetic person. I mean, look at me. Counselor. Father of daughters. Owner of a Hyundai. The guy who can't let go of friends' problems ever ever ever.
Let's say someone I know well has a problem--like, they are getting divorced. Or they've had a death in the family. Or they really sprained their ankle bad. Because I'm an empathetic person, I have a strong reaction to this kind of news.
Most guys hear about a problem around them and they're like "Wow, that blows. Well, I'll see you later. I'm gonna go play some football so I can go tackle any pathetic fool who crosses my path. Don't wait up. After that I'll be at a monster truck rally. Followed by shooting guns. Followed by having a conversation with some buddies about who will win the Superbowl. Followed by eating some nachos. Followed by not giving a crap. Followed by farting. Followed by sleep."
I, on the other hand, am like "perhaps it would be a good idea to think about this situation I can do nothing about endlessly, all day, every day. While I'm at it, maybe it can be inspiration for a sonnet..." *pens a ridiculous poem* "There. Wow, I feel... so much worse. And also my sonnet sucks. I think I'll go drown out my sorrow by playing sad songs on my violin for a minute or two... *three hours later* Yeah. That didn't help anything. Everything is exactly the way it was before I started playing the violin. I can't believe doing that didn't impact the lives of the people that aren't me that I can't get out of my brain. Oh, wait, I know! I'll write 18 emails I'll never send! That might help. *writes 30 drafts of a belabored, overwrought email so sappy, maudlin and ridiculous even the computer screen looks embarrassed* "Yeah. I still feel like crap. Welp, time to turn to my one true friend and the only coping mechanism that has ever really helped me feel better: food." *eats four gallons of ice cream in one sitting while trying to cheer up by watching Modern Family*
And what I just described? That's my reaction to hearing that someone I know got a D on a final they studied hard for. You can imagine how this looks when it's something serious. Like a hangnail. Or suicidal ideation.
As I pondered your situation for 79 hours straight, I decided to quilt you a quick something to say "I'm so sorry about your recent life event."
(Photo attribution: here)
You might say I put the "pathetic" in empathetic.
Sometimes, I wonder if I'm the only one.
Am I the only one who, when he encounters a mass murder in the news, feels that it is important to go through the story of each individual victim and visualize how they must have felt in the moment of their demise? You know, just so they didn't die in vain. Because me imagining myself being shot in the face validates their brutal murder. Obviously.
Am I the only one who searches out stories of severe child abuse online, and then obsesses over what he reads to the point where the stories actually enter his dreams, and then finds himself hovering over his daughters like some sort of insane humming bird intent on being awkward and protective?
Am I the only one who feels sad for really lonely things--like the last milk carton left in the store freezer? Or a lone fly buzzing around my house in the late summer, surely the last of the year, all alone, never again to find a huge pile of feces to feast upon? Or certain musical instruments that are rarely played such as the autoharp? Or jello molds? Or Myspace?
These are the questions that keep me up at night, feeling all blue.
But then occasionally, penetrating through the cloud of worry and sadness and empathy that surrounds me, I have a reader who comes into my life and makes me laugh really, really hard.
Today that reader was a guy I've never met named Chris who randomly decided to email me with a very special surprise. Remember this post in which Wife has a conversation with me and we talk about getting a new logo and she basically insinuates I'm ugly and then I take the most heinous picture of myself possible and propose it for my new logo?
Well, check this sucker out:
I don't think I can tell you how much I needed to see a masthead with the ugliest photo ever taken of me made by someone I've never met, that happens to perfectly encapsulate everything this blog is. Completely made my night.
Thanks Chris Perry. You are my new favorite person. And if you have a blog, I want to link to it in this post. But one thing you have in spades? A sense of humor, and some mad photoshop skillz.
I'm seriously considering making this my logo. It might happen if I can figure out how to do it. (Shouldn't I know how to do this type of thing by now, you ask? No. I have empathy. Not technological prowess. So leave me the H alone.)