Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed an old familiar feeling creep in: hatred of fellow human beings. It's slow at first, but before I know it I'm praying that the guy holding the train door open loses his stupid hand.
If unchecked, these thought seeds bloom into the Last Judgement. Since I'm not acting on them (yet!), they are harmless, RIGHT? Wrong. As they say in my favorite after-school club, "Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick", and "When you point the finger at someone else, three are pointing back at you". I am the only victim of my silent animosity. I didn't have this problem so much in Iowa, but since coming back to the city it's clear that being packed in with millions of people exacerbates my judgey tendencies.
I'm realizing that in a big city, empathy must be practiced actively, often in defiance of (perhaps justified) automatic negative reactions. Also, when it's a dark winter and your country resembled a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel AND you have to be up close to humanity, it's necessary to add a dose of magic to your day.
This past week, in the midst of my laundry list of resentments, there were two distractions that brought clear relief.
The first was the book Uprooted. It is the best fantasy novel I've read in a long time, an ever-expanding story that's easy to follow, and super-feminist! The downside: it took me away from my career work on the train, though escapism may have been the more important thing. Getting lost in this world of magic gave the real/stinky/loud/annoying world around me a little more shine.
The second was seeing the live action Beauty and the Beast at the cinema. I didn't expect it to affect me like it did, but from the first "Bonjour bonjour BONJOUR"'s at the opening, I was enraptured. The movie was DESIGNED to make women my age weep with nostalgia. It came out when I was a young girl, and growing up as a nerd in a small town, I related to Belle's longing. Plus she was brunette - and the previous Disney lead - my namesake - had disappointed me with crimson tresses.
And in addition to revisiting a special, innocent time, this film was just really f'ing good. It was beautiful and joyous, and I floated home with songs in my head.
This coming week I'm going to add more of this to my life, putting empathy and magic into action. When I'm standing on the platform waiting for the train, I'm going to try a little mantra - maybe something like "Today I will be understanding." When I work on the ten-minute play I'm directing, I'll make sure to carve out time for just that, giving my imagination room to root. Maybe I'll find a new magic-based podcast to listen to at the gym.
What do you do to cultivate empathy, and find a little magic? Help a girl out, and comment below!
Later little apples!