When I was in fourth grade my family took a trip to Florida. We stopped in Tarpon Springs where I somehow acquired a sponge. It was not like the kind you find in the grocery store. It looked like a dried out version of the ones above. It smelled of salt and was so dried out I could never imagine how it would ever absorb water.
I started thinking about sponges because I’ve been thinking about self-absorbtion lately. The different levels of it and when is it appropriate. Then I started thinking about how people say, “He soaks everything up, he’s like a sponge.” Apparently, these metaphors indicate a human’s ability to retain information and that depending on the information it could be good or bad.
It seems like self-absorbtion has a negative connotation. What is self-absorbtion? Wanting to have things your own way? Not knowing what is going on around you? These are behaviors of a typical two year old. But, the reason we are born with this innate behavior is for self-preservation and survival. We are taught to move away from this biological need. Our parents teach us to share and to analyze situations where we should have been more caring. Perhaps they use tools, like, religion or books. For some of us, we do move to a more empathic state and it comes more naturally. However, we continue to have blind spots. The sponge is not entirely squeezed of the ‘self.’ We have not absorbed the ‘other.’
Some days, I feel like I have been entirely squeezed out of empathy. I do not want to answer another text, email, or phone call. But, then maybe I have absorbed too much of me because I don’t recognize that there is probably someone who feels exactly the same way about me texting or calling them.
I guess there is no way around it. If you are like a sponge in the photo, you are still alive. You have fish swimming around you and little things swimming in and out of you. It may become overwhelming, but it’s better than being a dried up sponge sold in Tarpon Springs.