i’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of ownership lately. but not in the material sense.
the ownership i’m thinking about is made up of the things that we give and take from others without even knowing it. the way we pass on significant moments and feelings to someone else in the hopes that the other person will respond with one of those fundamental “i’m human” emotions: empathy.
there’s sharing, yes — the thing that we do when we’re sitting with our friends at a coffee shop and firing off the details of our days. but then there’s yearning for someone else to be vested in what you’re going through, to have them be an active part of it.
and it seems like it always stems from a place of wanting to be less alone. i want to give you my anger, my sadness, my frustration because i want you to feel it — own it — too.
i think we’ve all done this, haven’t we? i know i have, often, and at times very purposefully.
but i’m also the kind of person who wants to be able to feel what others are going through. i always have been.
the loss of lee roy selmon brought this into focus the other day. i’m not a football fan, not really, but i’ve been to lee roy’s restaurants — there are two locally — for media events numerous times, and met the man himself on multiple occasions. and if you’ve been reading the news stories about him lately, you’ll see not one nasty word has been written about him. not one. the man was a legend as much for his prowess on the field as for his kindness to others. to me personally, he came across very much as a father figure. and because he was so warm and giving, i wanted him to be part of my life — something of mine. so i made him that, even though i was basically a stranger to him. and when he died, the sadness i felt, and feel — along with millions of other people — was real thanks to that sense of ownership i’d created.
and then there’s the anniversary of september 11. today.
i’ve been debating whether i wanted to write anything about it, because what do i have to say that others haven’t already, and much more eloquently than i? but there’s that sense of ownership again — that wanting to be a part of it, horrific and shocking as it was. i work with someone who was with president bush — in sarasota — when the president found out that the towers had been hit, and i’ve been quizzing my coworker about it for the past week under the guise of journalism, but really because i wanted an excuse to feel more closely connected to what others are going through.
what does that say about my personality? i’m not really sure i want to know. but again, it goes back to that need to own a piece of a significant experience so we can feel like we’re not alone. and on days like today, in situations like this — when there’s a strange quiet in the air, when such abundant sunshine feels a little mean, when we’re remembering how much we lost, collectively and individually — i have to say, i’m ok with that.