Books and Empathy.

People often tell me that I am kind and understanding. I am not denying both but honestly I’m not perfect. One thing I want to share though is that there was something that actually helped me become more understanding and empathic. It’s reading.
I have always loved reading out of leisure. However, six years ago it changed. I started reading like there was no tomorrow. My time was consumed by reading. It’s crazy to think back how saturated I was by reading one book after another. One year I read around 150 books. Another year I read close to 200. Some of those books were 600-pages bound. You’d think I was not doing anything else in my life, but I actually still worked then…
When I read, I let myself be the character. The protagonist, the antagonist, the narrator. The kind, the jealous, the vain, the villain, the child, the daughter, the mother, the neighbor, the killer, the queen, the pauper. It was as if I was them and them me. I lived their life. In a mansion, a palace, a trailer, a wooden box, the streets, the trees. With every book I finished, a life I lived. All ’70 years’ of them.
I get to be the kind of person I am not in real life. I get to be a mean evil person, killing and stealing. Adventurous and taking risks. Bad ass and unafraid. Vulnerable and bare. Drama queen. Spoiled. Vain. It was fun. Every time I closed the book, I was back to my own self. Best of both worlds?
In the end, my English got better, but one thing I did not expect to gain from all those readings was born out of me. My empathy grew even larger.
I guess you could say it still depends on the person how they approach reading. I’m not saying go read now so your empathic senses deepen. You could try that if you want. It worked for me, unplanned but welcomed.
Maybe, the next time you pick up a book, choose to be the character, understand their flaws, live their lives. Learn from their mistakes and successes. You never know, maybe as you finish and close the book, you’ll find yourself more understanding. A bigger and a better person.
To choose the ‘benefit of the doubt’ with every person that come your way. Choose kind. Always.

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