Just the other day, my friend hosted a game night. We played a simple game where we scattered a bunch of cards face down. Each person picked a card at random and answered a thought provoking question. The guy next to me picked the card, ‘What is one thing the world needs more of?’ He answered it eloquently and from his heart. In short, he expressed the world needs more empathy to have a better understanding of one another.

Empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

This reminded me of my extraordinarily memorable experience attending this year’s SXSW.  I loved the Short Film Program. It was there, I watched, Forever Now.

In 18 minutes, this film captured a vivid story of a break up. In lieu of a couple leaving each other with unanswered questions, they spent a weekend unfolding their memories that initially sparked their love, then to their inevitable ending.

In the Q&A, Director, Kristian Håskjold, revealed the film was a portrayal of his own personal account. During the weekend of his break up, he asked his ex-girlfriend if he could record their conversations. He spent 2 weeks scribing every word from his recorder to paper, then selected quotes that were pivotal to their relationship and break up. This was the foundation of his film. Then, he spent an additional 14 months reliving his heart wrenching moments to adapt his story to film. To ensure he was encapsulating the integrity of the break up, he invited his ex-girlfriend to set when they were filming. Can you imagine spending a weekend on set with your ex, watching your intimate moment being played out in front of you by strangers?

You must think he is crazy. I agree. He is out of his mind…brilliant and courageous.

I do not share his same story, but I lingered breathlessly to every word, action and visual. I resonated experiencing the complexities of unacquainted love. The delicate sweetness of innocence of falling hard for someone unexpectedly that eventually ended in a bitter, desolate separation. The intricacy of losing someone you once shared a world of happiness to no longer being in your life.

I am inspired by Kristian Håskjold sharing his profound truth. His moment of courage to unveil his raw story. A human experience that often isolates us, but it formed a connection with me.  Two strangers. A Danish filmmaker and myself, a HR professional in Corporate America. He didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, but I felt connected because I, too, share this human experience.

That is the power of storytelling has had in my life. Moments in humanity that we collectively share together or individually to demonstrate that you aren’t alone, that you are supported, that your story and life experiences matter.

I only met the guy next to me that night and I wholeheartedly agreed with him. Naturally as I have a strong bias for action, I thought, how can I help to spread empathy in this world? I believe the art of storytelling has the ability to take you through someone’s journey. You don’t have to share the same experience to express sensitivity for someone else. I divulge excessively in reading a wide array of literary pieces, novels, poems, attending theater shows, acting, travel and deep listening in my coaching conversations with my clients.

You don’t have to have same life experiences as someone else to have empathy. But by, actively listening, reading, watching other people’s stories, this can give you a better perspective of people who are different than you.. and maybe, just maybe you’ll discover they aren’t so different.

Watch the preview of Forever Now here.

Reference:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy

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