Monday, February 14, 2011

Beyond the Anatomy is Destiny Routine

Walking in Redwood Park yesterday I overheard two youngish, slightly hip women talking. One was going to get married and then have a baby and the oohs and aahs just kept coming ad infinitum. And this is the Bay Area for godsake! In spite of the women's movement and all of my generation's efforts for something more, little seems to have changed. I suppose this mindset is species-driven but for once I'd like to see an email sent by the HR department at work not only to announce a marriage, the birth of a child or the death of a parent but to announce an art gallery opening, a published poem or article, a musical cd or concert, some actual accomplishment. Of course, this would be sacrilege because it implies that we have roles in the world, lives beyond our paid work in a library. Fulfillment is supposed to come from your production and your reproduction not from . Hacking out your own trail through this wilderness is rarified and uncharted territory and the separation is a gaping abyss. Wide and unfathomable by those in the majority.

A few days ago I had to answer some security questions to secure an account in case I forget the password. My choices were literally all things like: What was the date of your wedding? Who did you go with to the senior prom? When was your first child born? Where did you go on your honeymoon? I'm really lucky that I had a cat as a first pet. Otherwise, I'd still be trying to fill out that form.

All of which brings me to another question. Is empathy truly possible? As a writer, I have to believe that it is. I have certainly seen evidence of it in a lot of people's work. Really fine fiction that expands the boundaries of what we know as individuals. I do think that real understanding of another's issues is indeed possible but quite unusual. For members of a majority group whether ethnic, racial, sexual, religious it is much more difficult to see the other because the minority view which is not represented in the mainstream media. Maybe the internet is altering this somewhat. If you've never had friends from this group to inform you of their experiences it can be just a guessing game. But a truly open mind can accomplish a lot. It reminds me of that joke, How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? The response: Only one but the lightbulb has to really want to change.

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