A few weeks ago I watched a show about a 45-50 million year old fossil they found of a little monkey. She was found in the Messel Pit in Germany which is sort of unique in that the things fossilized in it are incredibly well preserved. It had to do with the composition of the pit and the instant death and preservation of the things that got trapped in it.
When they gave the description of how the little monkey most likely died I felt that usual twinge of sympathy, compassion and sadness for a life lost, in my heart that I always feel when I hear someone or something dies. I suppose in this instance that might be kind of silly because the monkey died long before human beings were even around.
Most of us don't openly grieve over lives lost that we don't know personally, but we have that passing moment of emotion when we hear these things. I think that's very natural.
Yesterday I woke up and logged on and saw that Farrah Fawcett had passed away. Again I had that twinge in my heart. I felt that brief sympathy for those who loved her and lost her, and what they have to go through. I felt sad for her struggle with cancer and then I went on about my day.
I feel the same way over any life, famous or not when I hear of their passing. I think we feel these things because even though we don't know them, we share an existence on this planet. We also share the knowledge of what it's like to lose something we love and the knowledge that we, like every living thing shares the same end fate. We know how their families feel and we can sympathize. That little pang of compassion is part of what makes us human.
A few hours later I came back to the computer and saw that Michael Jackson had passed away as well. I had the oddest reaction to this news. Actually I should say I had the oddest lack of reaction. I didn't feel that twinge. I didn't feel anything. I don't understand why not? It makes me feel a little heartless. Why am able to feel sympathy for a monkey who died a millenia ago and not a man and his family who passed away yesterday? I was as much a fan of his in the 80's as anyone else. I believe his life was probably rather tragic. I think any life lost too early is sad regardless whether I don't know them at all or if I did and felt admiration, apathy or contempt for how they lived and who they were. So why don't I feel anything this time?
I have always been pretty self aware and I usually know why I feel and do the things I do, whether they are right or wrong. But this has me stumped.