Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know wut yer gonna get

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I recently finished a book that had a paragraph about someone's death - and how the relatives reacted to it.

The person who died was a writer who lived on the edge of society. He had been wounded in wartime and he walked to his own drummer, so to speak. He lived alone, had bouts of depression and alcoholism, lived on a check from the government, fixed things other people threw away - and then gave them to those in need, - and he sold a few of his self published works on street corners. He was long haired, ill shaven, wore a rumpled suit and hat, rarely spoke - but when he did he was incredibly knowledgable.

One evening while returning to his 3rd floor room in an old buiding near downtown Boston, he fell down the stairs and suffered a stroke. He died. Eventually his mother, father and brother came to put away his things and clear the room. They went through his piles of unfinished works, small broken appiances, boxes of old books and stacks of his own works; all were tossed into garbage cans. When they came to a shoebox tied closed with a ribbon they found the letters they had sent to this gentleman. They read the letters and wept over them. They wept over words they had written. The words the dead man had written were tossed in the trash. That made me very sad. They did not care for him, they cared for their views, their history, their stories, not his.

This gentleman's family cared so little for him, they did not even try to appreciate the things of his life. They did not try to receive nor even see his essence of being. They could only, would only, receive their own past emotions. Were they too selfish? Were they too pained by past experiences? Were they too dense?

We all can share ideas, knowledge, wisdom - and we all have our own perspectives because of our own experiences. We may say we share an idea or thought, but everything we do is based from our own self, so do we really share? Can we totally communicate our truths to another person? Only if that person has somehow experienced exactly what you have, then the thought can be exactly shared.

Because this limits our abilities to share, I must be merciful in my views of this family. But - this paragragh made me realize that, even though I believe myself to be somewhat thoughtful, I too am selfish in this vein. I do not like this realization. I want to be able to say "I know what you mean", "I know what you are feeling" - and have it be true, not just some brief consolation. I want to be able to see why someone did what they did. I want to know what someone is talking about when a heart rendering tale is being told.

Empathy is what I value in people. Sympathy is a kindness, but empathy is - comrades in arms, kindred spirits, etc.