I haven’t written in a long time and I’m very rusty. The heat here in New York is killing my brain cells. Then this morning Zeus got horny as shit and decided to give the clouds a good, hard pounding and like the obedient little maiden she is, the clouds parted her slender, fluffy legs and with several loud ecstatic moans, let out an explosion of angry fluids that has lasted for four hours now.
I am currently drenched in that fluid. I’m a slimy, sticky, sweaty slug. My shirt is clinging to my bra and my hair smells like pissed-on seaweed in the bottom of a highly polluted portion of the South China Sea. It’s appalling, but I couldn’t care less. I love rain in all its charming and unappealing moods. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. My soul needed cleansing. I’ve realized that I’m a horrible person who does questionable things and has the audacity to feel guilty about it but not the will to change anything. Walking through rain does not by any means remake my character or alleviate my rarely-existent guilt. It simply warms me up to it.
The one quality a writer needs to have is empathy. Every good writer has it. Every person has it to a certain degree. You can be a hypocrite, like myself, but you have to be able to react emotionally to people’s actions. Maybe you’re an alcoholic who abhors other alcoholics. Maybe you’re a slut who slut-shames. Maybe you hate cliches but has the full collection of Nick Sparks novels stacked like porno under your bed. You don’t have to be morally upright as long as you can sympathize with people’s motives and ultimately understand with their deeds.
But is it wrong to sympathize with some tragedies more than others? Is it possible to react insensitively to happenings that sadden you? Almost a year ago, I bawled my eyes out upon hearing about the Charlie Hebdo shooting. I sobbed as hard at the end of Brokeback Mountain as I did while I was reading Jennifer Gonnerman’s New Yorker piece on Kalief Browder. I even shed a few tears after Djokovic lost his 3rd French Open Final. I didn’t shed a single tear about the Charleston massacre, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, or the now countless ISIS orchestrated casualties.
Why? Because I’m a typically insensitive, pop-culture obsessed, spoilt, heinous member of the Millenials. Because I obviously don’t give a shit about political crises and communal tragedies and flawed cultural attitudes and racial binaries that threaten to destroy the world as we know it for good. My ignorance is going to send this planet straight into Satan’s gaping, salivating jaws and aren’t I just ecstatic about it. Jimmy Kimmel was criticized for tearing up about the murder of Cecil the Lion but not about any of the things I didn’t lose a tear on. I can carry on sniffing about unimportant shit without being shat on because no one knows or gives a shit about me. Too bad that’s not the case for Jimmy.
I don’t send my mom an “I love you” text everyday even though she’s one of the two people I love most in the world. I don’t cry about every single thing that makes me incredibly, incredibly sad otherwise it’ll be niagara falls every time I think about my future or my face. I don’t decide what or who I’m attracted to. So what if sports happen to move me more than global news does? It doesn’t mean I’m not appalled by what I read, and it doesn’t mean I don’t care about it, otherwise I wouldn’t fucking read it, would I?
Thing is, and we often forget it, just because other people have it worse does not mean we don’t have it bad. Pain is relative, to that of others as well as our own. Empathy is a beautiful thing. No one should feel guilty for understanding one kind of pain but not another. You’re not slighting anybody else when you devote all your energy to one point of interest.
At least you care about another human being, and that’s not a truth that everyone has a claim on.