Finding the Monster Inside of Ourselves
March 1st, 2017
By Trent Wilkie
I’ve been thinking a lot about my mental wellness because, well, being a parent can make you feel like you are crazy. Or that you are a ghost horse. Either way, you are either extremely happy or extremely tired. It is polarizing. Much like the world is today.
I’m a journalist. Yes, I got in at a bad time. Like a blimp pilot graduate just before the Hindenburg. Look it up. Anyway.
As a journalist, I’m finding that there is a shift in people. They think they have to be one way or the other. Left or right, pro or con, very religious or not religious at all. But, one thing that I can apply to the world of a journalist, as well as to being a parent, is that the truth is somewhere in the middle.
One can be all. One can be many. One can try to see the world through others’ eyes.
Put it this way: It’s not about whether a person lies, it’s more about why they are lying. It’s not about evil or injustice, it’s about why people think things are evil or unjust. Let’s take politics: Left or right or socialist or conservative or liberal or fascist or whatever, you put them all together and somewhere, right in the middle, is where the truth lies: democracy. And this, ladies and gentlemen and those who prefer other pronouns, is a great segue to my next topic.
I’ve been learning more about empathy. There is no right or wrong when it comes to politics or parenting, there is only the middle. For example, I hypothetically get cut off by someone on the road. Usually, I lean towards the nasty negative, more colourfully-worded approach to dealing with this person in my head. But now, I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. What just happened to them? Is a family member sick? Did they mean to do it? If so, how terrible does a person’s life have to be in order to get them to act so dangerously? It is a very difficult way of thinking, but it is very helpful to me.
To me, empathy is right in the middle of all emotions, it is the most democratic of emotions.
If we were all more thoughtful, stopped reacting so fast, slowed down and took the time to think, we’d be in a better place. Now the problem with this is that it is very, very, very, very difficult to do. We’ve all wished that stupidity was painful and that people would just agree with us because we are the smartest people we know, right?
I think first we have to empathize with ourselves. Give ourselves a break. Then somewhere, right in the middle of it all, we start sharing that towards others. We can start empathising with our children. We can start trying to figure out why they are acting the way they are, not just responding to their actions.
It’s like a magical pause button in the middle of the monster of ignorance.
The first thing is, we have to find the monster inside of ourselves.
Trent Wilkie is a writer/journalist/performer in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. Trent has written for everything from CBC Radio (The Irrelevant Show) to The Canadian Emergency News to Fangoria and is currently a staff writer for VUE Weekly. Trent is also a member of Mostly Water Theatre, a sketch comedy troupe and has performed in a bevy of Edmonton International Fringe Festivals to varying degrees of success. As well, Trent has also been a wilderness canoe guide for over 10 years. Having paddled all over Canada, he considers the deep dark woods a therapy that only comes at the cost of comfort. When taking time off from trying not to be boring, Trent likes to relax while watching horror movies and trying to write the perfect three chord song.