Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Empathy and the Perfect Gift
I like to think I’m the Queen of Empathy. I like to think I’m so good at it that I can intuitively know what people are thinking without language. With only a blush, a flush, a frown, or a wave.
And I personify everything, whether animate or inanimate.
In my house conversation is endless from morning to night. I converse with my pets, my plants, even my clothing, bedding, and hardware. I worry about the comfort and care of everything.
I am annoyed with Hub when he drives Car without kind consideration. I make sure Dishwasher is happy and that there is lots of hot water before I do dishes. When I polish a table, I am happy because Table is happy. I talk kindly to my plants and plead with Computer. I have assigned personalities to everything and I keep those distinctive personalities in mind. So that everyone, and everything, will be happy.
And likewise I link my feelings to the feelings of others. When I see human discomfort, I weep. When I see neglect, I’m heartbroken. When I see injustice, I’m truly dismayed.
So am I not the Queen of Empathy? I think I am. In fact I’m quite certain I am. That is, until Christmas comes….
And so you would think the Queen of Empathy could crawl into everybody’s head. And with all that empathetic knowing, so perfectly aligned with the motives, situations, emotional sensitivities, and physical needs of others, I would be able to easily decide on the perfect gift to buy for each and every one. But not so.
Every gift is a problem. A big, big problem. I guess I could ask friends what they want but that so ruins the surprise.
So I get discouraged at Christmas time. I can’t help feeling quite crushed. My inability to choose appropriate gifts is frustrating, but more so is my insecurity about how genuinely I care about others. Maybe I don’t even understand Empathy. Maybe what I feel is nothing more than a game I play that I don’t fully understand.
How can I be sure?