Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why can’t I feel comfortably numb?

My mother (86) often says to me that I should care less about things. She is not alone in her view. Close friends say the same to me. I wish I could feel comfortably numb, like others. I cannot even if I want to. There is no ON/OFF button inside me. My default value is to care about people and things, provided that they/these are worth my time and effort. 

I am aware of the dark side of empathy (eg, my blogs of 20162019 and 2020). However, empathy also comes without an ON/OFF switch. The degree of empathy in our character may vary but most of us are hardwired with empathy. People like narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are known for their lack of empathy (PsychCentral, ScienceDaily).

The last sentence in my first paragraph should give me an escape, by deeming people and/or things not worthy of my time and effort. To some extent, this filter is indeed active. However, a rational decision to limit my empathy, often gets an emotional override. Even my zodiac states that my personality is hardwired “with plenty of compassion”.

Trying to limit my empathy probably equals trying to become a different person than I am (today). Moreover, I have accepted the person whom I am (today). It took me (very) many years to remove my various masks. Today, it’s easy: what you see is what you get – or WYSIWYG

At various moments in my life, I’ve expressed something like “I don’t give a rat’s ass any longer”. These moments of exasperation couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The one moment that I did give up in my life, a divine intervention took place that changed my life for the better.

I suppose I am who I am for a reason. It is what is making me unique. I fight for the causes that I believe in, provided that these are (still) worth my time and effort. Giving up on someone or something feels like a personal failure. I did give up on someone in 2014 and that moment still haunts me. That rational decision caused lingering emotional scars on my soul.

In the absence of feeling comfortably numb, I’ve learned to appreciate listening to this Pink Floyd song. It’s a favourite of someone I once knew well. Until today, I’m clueless about her reasons for disappearing from my life. She did tell me but I went uncomfortably numb after her first few lines.

Comfortably Numb (1980) by Pink Floyd

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

I hear you’re feeling down 

Well, I can ease your pain 

And get you on your feet again 

Relax (Relax, relax, relax) 

I’ll need some information first 

Just the basic facts 

Can you show me where it hurts?

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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