Mostly I want to point to Rob Greco’s wide-ranging post on empathy here. Empathy might actually be the master virtue—the one that makes any of the rest worth having—and Rob serves up a great collage of ideas and further reading including, of course, this all-time Snarkmarket favorite.
BUT I am also going to use this as an opportunity to describe a little thing that I do—a thing I have done since 7th or 8th grade, at least, and still do all the time today.
It goes like this:
Sitting in any space with other people—a classroom, a city bus, even a big wide-open park—I’ll sometimes let my mind wander and imagine the space from someone else’s vantage point. It’s as simple as that. No deep emotional imagination involved; it’s really just visual.
But the important thing is that I am included in the transformed scene. Doodling on a legal pad, hunched into a laptop, reading a book, whatever. The core of the exercise, I think, is that you see yourself as just another person in the space—an opaque bag of bones—instead of as, you know, the movie camera. The privileged POV.
Does that make any sense? It’s stuck with me as a habit, I suppose, because it’s so simple. This isn’t level 12 meditation. It’s just a little flip, a little dose of visual imagination. But I always find it entirely transporting. And it tends to put me in my place.
Anybody else ever do this?