I was chatting with a friend last night about this and that as usual. We started talking about music and he sent me the link to this video:
We were talking about the Schindler's List and The Pianist and the conversation became very sad. It was late and I went to bed. But today one thought wouldn’t leave my mind: why do I feel so much pain when I am confronted with the Jewish tragedy? As far as I know, my family had been fairly lucky and no one has actually died, even though in Kiev they had all the chances to. It’s different from the empathy I would feel towards any other people suffering. As soon as a story touches my roots in any way, the pain becomes almost physical, emotional distress goes way deeper and my mind holds on to it much longer than otherwise. That’s exactly what Perlman is talking about in this video – I feel like I am a part of it, even though in fact I am not.
I was looking for the name of this phenomenon (I may be special, but not that special. Many people have the same experience) and came across the term ‘collective pain body’. I don’t know who invented the term, but apparently Eckhart Tolle deals with the notion in his books and even gives some suggestions on how one can get rid of it as it prevents you from being happy in living your own life in here and now. Well, I don’t feel this pain is bothering me so much that I should work on getting rid of it. It rather helps me feel I am connected to my roots, which is a very nice feeling. I might though consider reading Tolle’s The Power of Now to learn how not to be consumed with the future too much.
Trivia: my grandmother and great grandmother lived in Kiev during the German occupation, but managed to escape the Babi Yar massacre of 1941 by hiding and living under a Ukrainian name.