Sunday, April 16, 2006

emotional rescue

Reading the aforementioned Year of Living Dangerously, I was particularly struck by this paragraph, as it could have been written about me (last paragraph in chapter 2):
Like most men who live alone, and have reached their maturity single, Hamilton had done so by numbing his feelings at crucial times, and turning to action for relief. Not selfish in a petty way, he nevertheless preferred the odourless, ethereal tensions of the world and his job to other people's emotions - with which, perhaps, he was mostly at a loss. And so he was often calmly unaware of their true natures, intensities and needs, floating and dissolving around him.
Now, this isn't me exactly -- I'm hardly a loner, I generally prefer being around people to being by myself. But the essence of what Koch writes resonates with how I see myself sometimes -- being more often self-identified as single rather than coupled, I tend to keep very busy with lots of extra-curricular activities -- music, soccer, volunteer fundraising, photography -- and I tend to keep the world at (a slightly bent) arm's length. It's not that I don't notice or care about the "true natures, intensities, and needs" of others (I'm actually very observant and sensitive to other people's emotions), I just don't usually let those kinds of things in too deep. It's easier not to...emotionally it's safer. The result is I come off as much more aloof and removed than I actually am. It's also a product of the terrible shyness that I had when I was younger and which I have only in the last 6-8 years mostly gotten over. Not completely, but mostly.

Not sure if this is a symptom or a function of my singlehood. It fits though, with a comment that someone recently made about my pictures -- "there's no people in your photos". Some of that stems from my reticence to take candid shots of people, my feeling that I'm intruding into their space. But a good deal it is in line with the way in which Koch portrays Guy Hamilton.

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