There is nothing quite like being truly hungry. It has this ability to turn life black and white. I am in the middle of a juice cleanse from Jus By Julie, this fab little function in New York. They were kind enough to overnight me a cleanse that has me thinking about a lot more than food. This isn’t my first rodeo. I first fell in love with the juice cleanse while working for Locale in 2012 when a five day cleanse from Suja was my assignment. Suja was a fresh little operation out of San Diego at the time. These days I can’t leave the house without seeing one in the hand of every mama, teen, and hot man in Southern California. But this is about more than being hungry and this is about more than oscillating between freezing to death and sweating out all the toxins of the last seven months. There is something else happening to me, far beyond the physical affects of this week.
I think it might be the fact that I am coupling this cleanse with my first reading of Leslie Jamison’s new fantastically successful collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. And, yes, they are as wonderful as everyone has said. Leslie has this way of coupling sentences together that do more for me than anyone else in my generation. She is smart, like really fucking smart, and also flawed and real, and unapologetic about who she is and who she isn’t. I fell in love with her last fall when she came to visit our MFA program and I immediately devoured her novel The Gin Closet. So, what I am starting to wonder is, is it possible to allow the parts of us that process emotion to come closer to the surface? Can I sharpen my ability to feel empathy? Can I hone in my skills on how to love? Is it possible that everything I am feeling is being rushed to the surface like the toxins that held so steadfast to my insides? How are my feelings any different? And can I sweat those out as well? I don’t know yet.
“Empathy isn’t something that happens to us- a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain- it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves.”