Compassion

BikerGirl and I (me?) were having a heart-to-heart, and began to wonder about writing that evokes empathy, and writers who are good at doing it. Or speakers, for that matter. There are books, articles, essays that create that strange feeling, an identity with what is being written about. Situations, people far from our own realities, but these black-on-white words make them part of what we live.

When I lived in that little-town-half-way-across-the-world, my friends used to tease me about living in books. Not literally, but I wanted a taste of what I’d read about – from watercress to walking by the river. It was a longing to do in reality what I had already done when I read Enid Blyton and William Blake, and I indulged it.

Today, I read Sacred Games or Backlash, and sometimes, I have already lived what I am reading about. But it still has the power to merge my life with what I am reading about, to make me think as they think, share joy and sorrow, anger and frustration, exuberance and incredulity.

I wonder about people who can write like that. Do they feel it more intensely that I do? I am only a reader, after all. Or is it because they distance themselves that they can write like that? I wonder about their everyday lives. Do they participate in the lives of every person they meet, they know or know of, so that I may vicariously take part in the lives of a million others? Or is it because their lives centre only around themselves that they can create a million characters for me to empathise with?

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