I want a blackbody’s soul with the mind of a mirror.
One of the most beautiful (yet sometimes painful) consequences of human relationships is that we are sometimes forced to put into words some issues that we may otherwise let fester in the back of our minds. In my experience, problems, whether of the personal or mathematical variety, seem much less daunting when I figure out how to describe it to someone with words. I don’t know what it is about direct, explicit expression that seems to lead to some level of emotional self-awareness, but it does at least partially explain why we think talking to our friends about our problems, “unloading,” is cathartic. I don’t know about you, but usually when I start talking to my friends or family about something that’s bothering me, I don’t necessarily seek advice; rather, I just want someone to listen and absorb what I say as I say it. It’s more of an exercise for myself: to push myself to dig up what the true problem is. While I always appreciate words of encouragement or advice, my only goal is, quite selfishly, just to have someone listen to me work out (or simply unload) my problems.
Now, I want to consider the other side of this exchange: the listener. One of my biggest insecurities regarding my friendships is my constant worry that I am not giving my friend adequate attention, or advice, or pity, or whatever it is they may need in their times of need. As it is for everyone else, it hurts me to see my friends hurting, but sometimes I just don’t know what to do. I listen as they unload, and try to give reasonable and non-empty advice, but there are some issues lately that I am certain I don’t know the first thing about handling. What’s more, I’m noticing that with these bigger issues, I start feeling an enormous emotional weight being piled up on me. It no longer feels like I’m solely listening to their problems; it’s as if I were absorbing all of it and unreasonably making them my own. Like a blackbody, except my mind is the one that captures all of these negative emotions and let’s them sit and fester. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if I weren’t so attached, if I had more emotional inertia, you could call it. Or if I could make my soul and emotions more like a mirror so that I didn’t have to absorb all of it. But think of how robotic, how entirely void of warmth I would be. The other beauty of human relationships, perhaps the counterpart of the one I mentioned above, is that when we listen to other people unload their issues, we begin to share with them all sorts of emotions, good and bad. We mutually move each other. So if by absorbing some of their problems, I could lighten a load, then it really is worth it. I only wish that I had the mental and emotional strength to absorb, but then stop thinking about it and let go. I wish I could be like a blackbody in my soul, but a mirror in my mind.
P.S. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted (because I’ve been busy with school), but I’m hoping to start this up again. It struck me the other day how so many different science terms could be used to explain human emotion, which I thought was worth exploring. I specifically thought of blackbodies and inertia, so I thought it’d be fun to incorporate the two into my rather personal post. Thanks for reading!