Thursday, January 15, 2015

on empathy and cheap internet thrills

As a kid, I had a few issues of Mad Magazine, but I actually much preferred Cracked. Yeah, I know most people would argue this is like preferring White Castle to a good gourmet burger bar, but I've always had an appreciation for cheap tastes. I had (as many would tell) drank much more swill beer than micro-brews...that is, when I used to drink.

Cracked magazine is no more, but the name lives on in a pretty amusing comedy web site. And I have to admit, it's part of my daily routine of "I don't want to think just yet" web viewing. The other day, I ran across an article called "5 Things No One Tells You About the First Year of Parenthood" (why are these always in lists? Well, at least this one didn't mention someone winning or destroying the internet. End of old guy rant). Being a parent type, I could most certainly relate.

For those of you who weren't here with me, the first year of my daughter's life was not the most pleasant. She was not a happy baby, and there would be days where she was pretty much either screaming at me or napping. Then we hit the eight month mark, and she calmed down...and, since that day, has just been getting more and more fun. But I do still have the memories/scars.

Overall, it was a pretty good list that covered most of my revelations. It missed, however, the most important one: exactly how deep the emotional bond becomes. I will swear to this day that I could physically feel her emotions. When she would laugh, I could feel it in my chest. When she would scream, I could definitely feel that much less pleasant feeling in my chest. It didn't just grip part of my consciousness or subconscious; it yanked them both on the way to physically ripping and twisting me. This is what made the "I'm going to scream every waking minute" days that much more painful, because I (to some extent) literally felt her pain.

Nothing in my experience prepared me for this...and it has, quite frankly, awoken a little bit of a mystical side in me. I have a deeper connection to my daughter than I would've expected possible. I not only empathize, I share her ups and downs on a higher level. And, in my most reflective moments, I wonder if we, as a species should have this same level of hyper-empathy with all other humans. Will we ever develop it? I don't know, but I bet if we did, it would make us a more worthy race.

Or maybe I'm just some alien emotion-sucking vampire. 50/50 call, really.

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