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At a writing Meetup I listened to an excerpt that went something like this:
“I like the Harry Potter movies better than the books. When I was younger it was the opposite. I think the books make you feel the emotions much more, you have to be more empathetic and it’s just so much work.”
This made me sad for them not only because they had clearly lost the ability to enjoy one of the most awesome series in the history of literature. When exactly does feeling emotions go from something that is exciting and sought after to being something that we avoid because it’s too much work? No kid pauses to think whether to play or not because they could get too emotional. And while teenagers are of course keen on avoiding certain emotions like embarrassment they are still open to feeling a whole range of feelings, often within a the same day.
It also reminded me of something I had heard on an entrepreneur podcast a while back: “building a business is frightening because as an adult you are just used to having a stable emotional life. Once the teenage years are over you kind of settle emotionally too. As entrepreneurs you suddenly rediscover all those scary emotions.”
Fortunately I never went through this process quite the same way. Have you? Have you stopped feeling hard since you were young? If that’s the case how do you expect to get in touch with all the wonderfulness of life? How can we expect to feel fully emotionally engaged with life if we shy away from the “work of empathy”?