Other people’s sense and sensibilities

April 10, 2012

I remember sitting with my father and watching an opera broadcast with him one night not that long ago, probably the last time I visited, and thinking, “Wow, I’m enjoying this more and in a different way than usual.”  Some time later it occurred to me that I was probably picking up on how he enjoys opera.  It’s kind of interesting, especially since he tends to see family members as extensions of himself, with similar tastes (including in food) — I experienced that as a reality, in a way.

I had a similar experience yesterday watching and listening to an interview with David Brooks from last December on C-SPAN2 Book TV.  Maybe it was the length, because while I didn’t listen to it all at once, I coaxed my computer to allow me to listen to it for large chunks of time.  Somewhere during that time, the David Brooks worldview in terms of politics and the social sciences made sense to me — I could see it that way.  It’s a nice place to live.

But those experiences for me are fleeting.  I go back to my world, and my worldview, and to my own sense and sensibilities.  I don’t enjoy opera the way my dad does, and to live my life, I need a different worldview from David’s (I think I’d have crashed and burned long ago with his).  But it’s good to be reminded of other ways of experiencing the world and that other people do experience the world differently.

It reminds me, a little, of how a younger widow I met in a grief group talked about wondering how other families spend their evenings.  I can’t remember now if she looked in windows, rang doorbells, or just wondered, but I resonate with the idea of discovering how other people live their lives.


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