Good(funny)Fellas

Remember that iconic scene when Tommy DeVito (portrayed flawlessly and I suspect somewhat effortlessly by Joe Pesci) goes on his rant after being called “funny”?  Here’s the quote:

I mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Joe Pesci’s genius notwithstanding, this is a hard scene to watch.  It’s one of the most cringe-worthy, yet most quotable scenes in the history of film. Isn’t it?

That scene, that momentary lapse of sanity for Pesci’s character, when he’s not sure whether to be insulted or flattered, is what comes to mind when I hear things like “I just want someone who makes me laugh.” What, like, on command?  Please elaborate.  I mean if I’ve got to stand at the mic and tell you jokes, you’d better be pulling out some pretty astounding party tricks yourself.  You know what I’m sayin’? *wink, wink*

That said, it’s actually me who has been thinking it this week.  Someone who makes me laugh is probably the one quality I value over all others when it comes to friendships, acquaintances, sometimes even work collaborators.  It’s something I cherish in all my dealings with my brother.  It’s something I admire in clever people and I find charming in men.

I went to lunch with a friend this week.  She’s a sweet person.  We went to high school together but only recently have become close.  She is funny and, even better, she laughs at my jokes.  We have similar outlooks on life and work.

When I think about recent date nights I’ve had with my husband, the ones I consider most “successful”, meaning we got along great and had a good connection and I felt reassured about us, are the ones that included laughter.  Lots and lots of laughter.

No one is funnier than my brother.  I don’t know if this is because we grew up together so I’ve grown accustomed to it, or because he is truly a genius, or if we are so similar and have been “in the trenches together”, so to speak, so our humor is naturally shared and familiar.  We laugh every time we are together.  Heck, I laugh at his texts and social media messages, too.

Sometimes my seven-year-old tells me I’m “hilarious” or high-fives me to indicate approval of a joke.  It’s one of the highest compliments my heart can receive.  I remember how excited I was when his humor evolved from knock-knock jokes that don’t make any sense but it’s my motherly duty to laugh, to puns that were so clever I found myself questioning whether he’d actually made them up himself. (And the pride I felt at that!)

Levity seeps into all areas of my life.  Books, podcasts, tv shows, work… I seek it out.  I suppose this is partially because I associate humor with wit.  Or, rather, humor is generally associated with cleverness, outside of my own opinion, and I greatly admire clever people.  To take it one step over that line is that humor opens the door to empathy.  The Human Experience.  When I find someone who is funny, who finds humor in the same things I do, who thinks my jokes are funny or whose humor tickles me, a bond is created.  There is an immediate trust, an instant understanding.

So… yeah.  To hold a special place in my heart (and my social circle), you need to be funny.  Funny like a clown.  I’ll be funny too.  I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you.

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Feeling Too Much

What is an Empath?

I am an Empath.

There, hope that clears it all up.

(kidding.)

An Empath, depending on what you believe, is either a name or description someone made up (totally bogus) to describe someone who cries too much, is a drama queen, is anti-social, etc. – OR – An Empath, sometimes called an HSP or Highly Sensitive Person, is someone born with the gift of feeling.  Google dictionary defines Empath as “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”.

Don’t let the word “paranormal” throw you.  Empaths aren’t evil, ghosts, spirits, witches, or make-believe.  They are real, flesh-and-blood people like you, good reader, who feel on a level much higher than most.  When I describe this to others, I like to say “mine goes to 11” and I also reference E.T. and Eliot.  (If you do not understand those references, get off my blog now. Seriously. Quit. Bye.)

My ability shows up in little ways in my life.  Quirky things, like not being able to watch blood-and-guts movies.  I have a visceral reaction to … well, viscera. I also can’t handle lots of loud explosions.  Honestly my favorite types of films are happy ending, Disney-style, boy-gets-girl ones.  I tend to insert myself into the film, and feel emotions even as I watch, as if the story were real, and it hurts (physically, hurts in my chest) when I have to watch tragic things.  So I avoid them.  My sweet husband is wonderfully accommodating with me on movie dates, even if it means we see something rated PG or animated.   Another way it shows up is in thinking so strongly about someone that they call (or show up), or dreaming about someone, asking if they are alright, and having them respond with “how did you know?”

In addition to having stronger experiences emotionally, Empaths can often “read” other people, or feel the emotions of the people around them.  This is true in my case.  (Remember Deanna Troy in Star Trek?  She had this ability.) As you can imagine, this makes trips to places like the mall and crowded restaurants uncomfortable.  Often, it makes me tired, and I experience sensory overload.  The talking, the music, the clanging, the smells, and on top of that, the anger/depression/worry soaking into my pores usually gives me  headaches and a strong need to nap.  Empaths love to love people, and have a strong desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. (I have a shirt that says “Lover, Not a Fighter” on it.  That pretty much sums it up.)

Some people say that Empaths are not really gifted, they are just people who get their feelings hurt easily.  I am writing to say that 1) That’s a lie, and 2) People who call others “too sensitive” just don’t want to feel guilty for acting like jerks.  Now, it is true my feelings get hurt easily.  But I also love easily and deeply, feel compassion and – of course – empathy in a way that most others don’t, and when I’m happy it’s an ecstasy that most people don’t get to experience.

Most Empaths are gifted in more than one way.  Some can see auras, some have visions in dreams.  In a crowd, they usually go unnoticed, sitting in a corner somewhere watching quietly.  But they are valuable members of society, the “bleeding hearts” who have a tremendous ability to love their fellow man, generosity beyond measure, and an appreciation for people of all shapes, sizes, and creeds.

Mother Teresa is believed to have been an Empath, as well as actor Keanu Reeves, who is famously reclusive, shy, and kind.  Empaths are extremely good listeners, will quite literally hand over the coat on their back for someone else, and do well in creative careers like writing (hello) and painting.

Do  you know an Empath?  Are you Empathic?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  If you would like to take an Empath test, try here: http://www.empathtest.com/ or here: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html

If you love an Empath or HSP or want to know how to love them best, please read: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-tips-help-you-love-empath.html  AND  http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/famous_empaths.shtml  AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/awake-the-wheel/201305/feel-live-the-secret-life-empath .