Moving for You: A Tribute to Empathy (a short film) sparked from a chance interaction in 2008, when a minister in Cambodia prompted me to see empathic connection in a new (and affirming) light.
Before I left for Asia, the funeral program of a childhood friend had fallen out of my closet. She died on September 11, 2001, when her plane crashed into the World Trade Center. In the seven years since she died, I felt that I hadn't mourned her properly. I hadn't cried.
At the time of her death, we hadn't seen each other in years and I found myself thinking, I have no right to mourn her. The truth, however, was more complicated. In the years we were close, Lynn's friendship and overall sunny demeanor were meaningful beyond words, a necessary relief from the unexpressed grief from my childhood. When Lynn died, I did not appreciate is that sometimes one sadness is inextricably linked to another. Instead, I pretended like I was made of stone, like there was some unwritten rule about appropriate (and inappropriate) emotional responses to tragedies, both public and personal.
Then I met the minister while visiting Angkor Wat. When I said that I lived in New York, he told me that his family traveled to the World Trade Center from their home in Korea every year on the anniversary.
"Did you know someone who died?" I blurted.
"No, but my daughter, when she heard the news, she cried for three days straight."
Instantly, I saw a flash image of her folded over in half as tears struck her like bolts of lightning.
He added quietly, "It's very sad, what happened. Very, very sad."
That was it--a random story and few words and it was suddenly OK that I had never been able to cry; the minister's daughter, a stranger, had cried for me, for all of us. I hadn't been alone in my grief after all. (That full story is here.)
Following that trip, I wanted to pay homage to the beauty of human connection, to the notion that deeply felt emotions have the power to heal, even people we've never met. Moving, for You is my attempt to honor what the minister's daughter had done for me, for you, for us and the ways we can shoulder each other's burdens and celebrate our resiliency.
Calligraphy by Amorosa5