sinepathy

25 March 2009 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Like, Dislike and General Ambivalence — these three have been the holy trinity of my feelings towards people.

Throughout my life I’ve found that I either like a person right away, dislike them right away, or generally feel uninterested either way. As I get to know people better I usually find myself liking them more or disliking them more. Its a simple pattern:

The Pattern of most of my Relationships

The Pattern of most of my Relationships

However, lately I’ve discovered a new pattern emerging.  It’s applicapable to at least two specimens in my life and it involves a fluctuation of feeling that oscillates between the opposing feelings of pity and anger.  

The first specimen is a single co-worker who lives with his dog and several vintage cars, which he repairs as a hobby. He doesn’t have many close friends or family and no romantic interests, so the job here at the museum is where he devotes all his energy.  Because of this, there are times when I genuinely feel sorry for the guy, for his life and the fact that unless he makes some major changes he will probably spend the rest of life alone until he becomes an artifact himself.

But because I am required to work with him on projects and exhibits, there are times that his preoccupation with the inconsequential details and his inability to make decisions is absolutely the most frustrating thing on earth!  While planning an exhibit, my mind is trying to take in every aspect of the project: from artifacts to colors to purchasing and scheduling, and he comes to me and wants to have a 20-30 minute conversation about the exact construction method of one small mount for one object! And when I hear the words “I think we need to re-think this…” I grit my teeth involuntarily, because the decision was probably already decided, but in his mind he is still exploring more complex and convoluted options.

This feeling changes so regularly it actually follows a sinusoidal wave:

The Sinepathy Pattern --- anomalous.

The Sinepathy Pattern --- Anomalous.

So, I have dubbed this regular change a sinepathy pattern. With my co-worker the interval is so regular I can actually plan which weeks I will be completely annoyed with his behavior and which weeks I won’t. This has helped me prepare for how well (or how poorly) the exhibit installation will be,  because if he is on my nerves, he has already teared everyone else’s to ribbons.  

The second sinepathy speciman is a guy who performed in a recent play with me. His acting isn’t the best, and could only be described as “overly exuberant”, and his physique and presence are not notable enough to make up for it. However, he absolutely loves being part of the theatre. So, after dress rehearsal when he received the most criticism of anyone in the cast, I honestly felt sorry for the guy. It’s got to stink to love something, while having absolutely no natural talent for it.

After thinking about it, I decided to offer him some encouragement. I told him not to let others tell him how to feel about something he loved. I told him to just enjoy the show, because he loves performing. He gave me a hug and said he felt better — mission accomplished!…

… until the review. 

A reviewer singled him out for special mention, because of his comedic addition to the play, and, in part, because she couldn’t figure out the names of any of the girls in the cast based on the program. I thought it would help his confidence, but he’s decided to go completely prima donna on us!

He now hams up his parts in the play and tells other girls in the cast that the audience loves him the best. He gotten so out of control that people who are singing solos are being upstaged by his antics, and recently  after a performance when and audience member complimented him and show he responded, “Well, you know, I’ve been told I steal the show!”

Infuriating. The sympathy was gone completely, replaced by an antipathy that could rip someone apart.

I haven’t know him long enough to know whether or not the sympathy will ever return, but I’ve become more aware of the infinite complexity of human emotion — especially my own.

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