Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Otherness of others.

I love those moments when you talk to someone and discover their way of seeing the world is fundamentally different to yours.

My usual tendency is to assume everyone is basically like me, so would feel the same way I would in the same situation. This means I don't tend to look down on people, which is good. And, as I'm strongly empathetic, it is an assumption that rarely leads me into too much trouble.

But every now and then I get a wake up call: someone says something to me and I think, 'my goodness, I would never think about that in that way'. I find this fascinating. Sometimes it leads me to despair entirely of the person in question. But usually it's wonderfully entertaining. How diminished we are if only take our own opinions into account!

Unfortunately my most recent encounter with this phenomenon was a little embarrassing. The thing is, I tend to worry a lot about things and fantasise about worst-case scenarios. I know this is a particular problem I have but - in keeping with what I've said above - tend to assume everyone does the same, a little bit at least.

I often decide Jon has died in some horrific way if he's not (back) in the house when I expect him to be. I confessed recently to fantasising about what I would end up doing if he died while out on a run, as he never takes a phone or any ID so the police wouldn't be able to identify him or contact anyone he knows. There I was, planning at what time and in what order I would start ringing hospitals.

As I was explaining this to him, I looked at his expression and realised. He was thinking, "This woman is a total and utter loon and a total and utter mystery to me".

Fundamentally different, you see.

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