Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why is your enthusiasm not as wide as mine?

I've noticed this phenomenon in which someone feels strongly about a piece of art like a song or a scene from a movie, or even a play in a football game or a strong statement that someone made...A person feels strongly about this thing...and they cannot BELIEVE that the person or people around them are not having the same reaction.

Do you know what I'm talking about?

Picture this public example:

A football player on the field, looking up at the stadium, aghast, almost angrily flapping his arms up and down, asking for more enthusiasm from the crowd.  Why is he so angry about it? I often wonder to myself.  People are going to get as excited as they're going to get.  Yay! One of your teammates got a touchdown or a two point conversion. Amazing!  People are already cheering loudly; You make a hundred zillion dollars a year.  What more do you want?  Is their increased volume going to validate you and your teammates further?

Or this more private example:

A man at a party, playing a song that he absolutely loves for a group of people.  They smile, bop their heads up and down to the beat.  Listen closely to the lyrics. But still. This man is astounded that these people are not reacting with the life changing amazement that he did upon really hearing this song for the first time.  Their minds aren't sufficiently blown. What is their problem???  He wants to know why their enthusiasm for this piece of art isn't as resplendent as his.  I see this happen often enough and I always want to know...why is it so important to you that others react like you react. Does our lack of enthusiasm for this thing somehow discount your own? It shouldn't.

But we want people to share in our glory and our grief.  Our joy and jubilation, or distaste and outrage.  I do understand this.  I want it too. 

But there's a difference between contagious thrill in music, art or sport..and an almost ire in someone not sharing your same reaction... 

I'm trying to understand why this bothers me so much when I see it happen.  Is it because it annoys me when someone gets angry at another for a naturally occurring reaction (or non-reaction)?  I admit that I'm not the most comfortable with anger without forward action...  And I believe that anger always is the secondary emotion to something more uncomfortable to sit pain...hurt...rejection.  So then, is it because of the validation so craved and needed in that moment? Does it make me become aware of the validation I also wish for? 

I suppose I recognize that the person trying to take, albeit sometimes in a forceful manner, the shared reaction of his or her fellow humans, comes from a place of simply wishing to share in something moving.  We all want community of a kind.  We want to share in the experiences of things strongly felt.  I think, in this age of face-book paced twittering on and on about our sandwiches, our babies, how long we worked out, our experience of the horrific things going on in this world with the same voracity,  we want to matter.

The tight end with his big bucks and heavily padded work life wants to matter.  The party goer with his discovery of a new beautifully produced song with smart lyrics wants to matter.  I want to matter. You want to matter.  

And we do.