Tuesday, June 4, 2013
A 13-year-old student asked me the other day, "What's the difference between sympathy and empathy?" I happened to have a poem, written years ago, to explain. Here's an excerpt:
Sympathy is what you SHOW to others; Empathy is what you FEEL for them.
Sympathy is external; Empathy is internal.
Sympathy is a polite action; Empathy is a compassionate one.
Sympathy is expected in polite society; but Empathy is a welcome, cherished surprise.
Sympathy can be expressed by greeting cards; Empathy is only expressed in sincere words and/or hugs.
Sympathy is announced; empathy is understood.
Sympathy shows caring; Empathy creates sharing.
Sympathy is to shine another’s beaten-up shoes; Empathy is to wear those shoes.
Loss is cluttered by the sympathetic shoe-shiners,
And simplified by those who share our burdens,
Leaving us a smaller fraction of grief to bear alone.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Lately, my friends keep lamenting over age spots and wrinkles, discussing this treatment and that treatment that will help them stay young-looking. Here is my poetic response:
The Lines on My Face
The lines on my face
SHOW, don’t tell
of a writer
blessed not by a well of angst
from which to draw word pictures,
but by a fountain of bittersweet joy,
from which I gather
well-read palmfuls to splash
onto my new wrinkles
just in time to turn them into
fantastic crows’ feet
and grin marks,
hydrated by freshwater happiness
and saltwater lessons.
My fine lines,
though written with strength,
are not the type discussed by Oprah’s Book Club,
nor are they admired
by the “Beautiful People,”
who see them as defects of aging,
rather than privileges.
The lines on my face
help to make me ME—
as do these lines above.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
When I contemplate the power, necessity, and life-giving force of words, I think of water, which comprises most of our world and our bodies.
by Susan L. Lipson
Flow like rivers,
Rivers of rhythm surging,
Surging and burbling and pouring,
Pouring into oceans and lakes and streams,
Streams of thoughts and wishes and desires,
Desires shared by readers who immerse themselves and drink,
Drink their fill of rejuvenating, satiating lexical liquid,
Liquid literature swirling into open minds, the vessels of ideas,
Ideas represented by words that flow,
Flow like rhythmic rivers,
Rivers of words.
Built of closed minds,
Minds in perpetual drought and fear,
Fear the flooding of their foundations,
Foundations that cannot withstand the tides of change,
Change that flows through all,
All open to words,
Words that grow,