An email from one of M’s teachers:
“What are we going to do with that marvel of a child?
Today, I asked them if they have ever felt loneliness (talking about the idea of “cosmic confinement”- astronauts left on the space station for over a year with no contact).
Michael says, “I have only known loneliness from the point of view of empathy. I have never felt loneliness.”
You know your guy is good no matter what goes down.
We work a lot on empathy. Some say it can’t be taught in “certain brains.” Some say he has that sort of brain. It warms my heart to know they’re wrong. It takes him more than many to “get” empathy but when he gets it it’s pure. I’m learning so much from him.
Hearing this feels good because it reminds me that he’s “protected” from being hurt by his own way of being. In a way, he’s alone a lot, even around others, but he’s such a fully self contained unit that I don’t think he ever actually has felt loneliness. His grown-ups’ job is to stay tuned into him enough to catch it when the inevitable human loneliness does happen; he’ll have had so little practice.
Or maybe he’ll never feel lonely. His brain is so incredibly active, so much to think and wonder about. If this is true, he’s lucky. As far back as I can remember I’ve had an intimate relationship with existential loneliness. I can be lonely anywhere. We’re opposites that way. I keep hoping he rubs off on me. Then again, my perpetual tendency toward loneliness is likely as necessary to my soul as his lack of it is to his soul