I drove a taxi for five years. It was the most interesting job I ever had.
I went into houses in slums, went into mansions, and every kind of house in between. Some of them were houses, and some of them were homes. There is a difference in the feeling between them.
I’ve gone into mansions in which there was a coldness in the whole place. I could feel the coldness. It was a house, not a home.
Most places didn’t have much of a feeling one way or the other. But I can remember the few places I entered that were clearly homes – I could feel the warmth and love in them. They had a “family” feeling about them. One of them was a old starter house, but I remember thinking, “I really like the feeling in this place.”
Now how is this possible? But it is, and I think almost everyone can do it. How can I, or anyone else, pick up a feeling in a house that turns it into a home? I did it; I just don’t know exactly how I did it. I wasn’t imaging it.
In each case, there were people in the house, so I assume I was picking up their feelings. If there were no people in the house, could I have picked up something? I don’t know. Could there be some kind of “residue” of feeling left? I wonder.
I can understand picking up feelings from animals, but even in a way, that’s amazing. I once walked up to a house, and through the glass door I saw a bulldog with his whole rear end wagging back and forth. When I opened the door, he started doing a little dance in front of me. So I rubbed his head and petted his back, then he ran off and bought back a rubber toy to give me.
How did I know that this dog was feeling, “Oh boy oh boy oh boy!! Happy happy happy!” It’s a dog, not a person, but I knew what he was feeling. I empathized with this dog, somehow.
This lack of feeling is why I think snakes repulse so many people. They’re cold, emotionless killing machines, and people know it.
There was a philosopher, Tommaso Campanella, who lived several hundred years ago. He used to assume people’s expressions and body language, to see if he could feel what they felt. Essentially, this is what good actors do. I can understand this, and I can understand knowing what dogs feel. What owner does not know when their dog is feeling poorly?
Since every home I was in had people in it, I assume I was picking up their feelings. This means, in a sense, there was no difference between me and the home, or rather, what I was feeling was created in the relationship between me and it. The “self” I was at that time existed only in the relationship between me and the place. That’s what empathy is – a relationship. And that empathy is why I was able to pick up the difference between a house and a home.