Last Monday, I started a blog with the intention of talking about the best things of 2011, but ended up waxing nostalgic about one of Earth’s few female specimens which had gained my attention and respect.
After the assertive, confident woman I'd come to expect act so demure in a new setting, uncertainty was all I had. To this day, it's all I have. This isn’t a story where an omnipresent point of view reveals the full depths of each person’s character and the audience comes away with a clean resolution and an appreciation behind the A-Type personalities they encounter every day. It’s a real story, and like most real stories, we can only read the tea leaves and divine our own meaning from it.
People aren’t constants; a person isn’t a static value impervious to other factors. It’s easy to see people that way:
Because we often only see them in one or two contexts. This doesn’t indicate that they’re two-faced or duplicitous; it indicates that they adopt several social roles over the course of their lives. Rather, they are functions, end results determined by a series of environmental factors which are themselves variables descended from that person’s solution.
Then you have to take into account that the sum total of a person’s actions are simply those they’ve taken, not those they would have taken. If circumstance or choice always keep someone away from people and environments which bring out certain qualities in them, then they never take any actions which make them a good person, or a compassionate person, or a driven person, or an assertive person, or an open-minded person.
Then again, life is a journey of constant development. It’s not just the variables, but the very substance of that equation which is altered as we learn and experience. Sometimes, life changes cause these modifications. Sometimes, the slow progress of making oneself a better (or worse) person initiates these changes.
Then, of course, there are times when we have a divergence between what we do and what we feel, or even a split in our own feelings. I’ve had times where I’ve hated the things I was doing, even as I did them, but did them none the less. Most people can recount times where they’ve gone about their daily business as if nothing were wrong, even when they carried an incommunicable pain inside of them.
And that’s the end of 2011. It’s also the end of each year, in a way, but 2011 was especially hard for some of the people close to me. The highs and lows both shape us and both stay with us, simultaneously. We are both grieving and celebrating, carrying positive and negative without either cancelling out, while we worm forward through time as fractions of ourselves.
I’d like to wrap all of this up with an uplifting message about 2012 or a message about hope and renewal, but neither one seems quite right. As someone who doesn’t feel a lot, it’s hard for me to gauge the correct social response to things. I’m trying to encapsulate all the positive and negative of one year, but whenever I do, it feels like I’m giving a nod and checking off real life experiences that people have had, like quoting an episode of Family Guy right after watching it; it’s not an empathic understanding of things gone by, but a recitation of facts, and empathy—looking back over the path we’ve all walked in the past year—is the point of the end of year retrospective, reminding everyone of the things that have united us.
But as I go over all of this, I can only think that having empathy--true empathy—for another person is an intersection of the one-dimensional lines of feelings weaving through massive expanses of space, time, mood, and personality, like shooting a needle and thread from the moon to hit a correspondingly improbable sewing assembly headed for Mars.
It’s amazing anyone can do it.
 Pumpkin flavored pop-tarts, DC Reboot/New Phryexia (tie), getting my offshore job back, my first year of blogging, finishing NaNoWriMo again, The Prisoner, making friends with an old ex, Richard’s promotion, Derek’s baby, Arab Spring. Honorable Mention: Those three games of D&D I ran.