When I wrote this essay about my discomfort with laughing at the pain of others, I just felt like I had something I needed to get off my chest. I wasn’t expecting it to resonate with strangers the way it did, but clearly something hit a nerve.
have been accused of being too much of an empath. I cry when I see other people cry. I’ve gotten physically ill listening to people describe particularly painful injuries or medical procedures. A few weeks ago, while catching up on the excellent Every Little Thing podcast, I sobbed as host Flora Lichtman played audio clips of people witnessing the summer 2017 solar eclipse because I was so in awe of their awe. I am, I’m certain, an embarrassment at weddings and funerals, and I cried myself to sleep twenty minutes in to the movie Up. (I was extremely confused to wake up to a talking dog.) I gave up on my earlier aspirations to be a clinical psychologist when I realized that I’d only ever be able to keep up a professional poker face if all my patients were happy. And any time someone suggests I consider running for office, I know that I’d wind up bawling at a town hall when one of my constituents tells me their tragic tale—and as a woman, that would be all it took to ruin my political career. I will, I’m sure, be the world’s most embarrassing mother.
The full essay, which was inspired by the famous video of a Philadelphia Eagles fan colliding with a subway support column, is available on Medium.