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As I chatted with a friend, I noticed she had two small earrings in the inner part of her ears. I knew a guy who had the same thing, because as a bouncer in a bar, an occupational hazard was having regular earrings ripped out by the drunks he was encouraging to depart.

She’s already a busy woman, so I didn’t think she was adding a new profession, but who knows? People grow and people change. Her kids are grown and out of the house, so perhaps being a bouncer in a bar is a longtime ambition. I’m on about my fifth profession, so I’m in no position to judge.

I asked her about them, and she laughed and said, “No, I did it because it’s supposed to help with migraine headaches.”

I didn’t know she had migraines. One of our daughters gets migraines and they’re brutal. When one of them hits, I imagine she’d be willing to poke a hole almost anywhere if it would make them go away. My friend said she didn’t have them very often, but they were miserable when it happened.

She said, “I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.” Then she paused for a moment. “No, that’s not quite true – I wish everyone would have just one, so they’d know what they felt like.”

I know that’s another thing that bugs my daughter. When someone with a regular headache refers to it as a migraine, she has to fight back the urge to say, “You mean you’re sitting in the dark trying to hold your head perfectly still so you don’t vomit from the pain?”

I think my friend with the holes in her ears may have landed on the secret of the universe, although she didn’t invent the idea. In 1895, a poet named Mary Lathrap wrote a poem titled, “Judge Softly,” which includes the line “walk a mile in his moccasins.” I imagine Plato, Confucius or some of those folks said something similar. But no matter how old the concept is, it’s time and past time for it to be freshened up and given some new exposure.

We seem to live in a world where so many people have so much certainty about so many things. We seem to spend so much time shouting into the wind, faces red and veins bulging. Most of us do it. Heck, halfway through writing this column I went into a mini rant to my wife about the housing/mortgage bubble burst in 2008, when none of the big bankers went to jail. So many of the people in the Treasury Department used to be big bankers themselves and were incapable of seeing the crisis as something beyond business as usual. They just thought there was something deeply wrong about a guy in a thousand-dollar suit wearing handcuffs. They couldn’t wrap their heads around what the whole mess looked like from the perspective of someone working overtime for a down payment on a house, just to lose it all because of white collar trickery.

My pulse is racing simply from writing that last paragraph, but honestly, I could give another fifty examples of the downside of not trying to understand just exactly where other people are coming from. I don’t actually want everyone to suffer from a migraine so they can truly understand, and I do understand that the thought of walking in someone else’s shoes makes many of us a little queasy, a little uncomfortable.

But isn’t that the point?

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson

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