I’m going to go all Buddhist on you today. I’m also going to give you a task. Do you believe we’re all connected? I do. I believe it on both a physical and metaphysical level, but I’ll try not to get too deep here.
I’ve always done what I call “empathy exercises” with my characters, putting myself inside their skin to better understand how they think and feel. In recent years, though, I’ve started doing this with real people to remind myself that we are all connected.
Sometimes I get carried away with this. I was at a party at a neighbor’s house not long ago and each time I spoke with someone there, I reminded myself of our connection as human beings. I imagined myself in his or her skin. One woman said that she saw a homeless woman on the street and gave her some money because “she could have been me.” Full of my connectedness-euphoria, I said, “You are her! And I’m you! And you’re me!” And everyone stared at me like I had a screw loose and I decided it was a good time for me to keep my euphoria to myself.
When I imagine myself in someone else’s skin, it gives me an extraordinary feeling of empathy and understanding. I guess I’m wondering how it feels to others, so I’m asking you to try it for twenty minutes or so. Wherever you go today, look at people and imagine yourself inside their skin and see how it feels. I’d love to hear about your experience!