I have a big gorilla tattoo on my shoulder blade. I didn't do it because I liked Plant of the apes or any other primate characters. I didn't know I was going to get it up until a day before I got it.
I was learning Zouk with my teachers Val and Vanessa in Rio, and Val was talking about getting a tattoo the next day. I mentioned I thought about getting a tattoo, but couldn't think of what to tattoo. He paid no attention to that last part and made an appointment for me with Carlos, another Zouk teacher, and an incredible artist.
I chose the gorilla because it's close to human, but more primal. I wanted it to convey emotion. I wanted it to be a symbol of some of the more intense emotions that I keep inside for no one to see, and I wanted it to look it it's "breaking out" of my body to express them. I wanted it on my chest.
A friend of mine suggested it would be very nice for any person that I'll get intimate with to stare at a gorilla. Valid point, so it went the opposite side of my torso, compromising my "vision", but just enough to not lose the sense of meaning or the message.
I look at that and realize that sometimes I "empathize with the future" in doing things that should matter only to me. Whether permanent or temporary, we recognize our actions can affect other people's feelings, and we can choose whether to engage in empathy or avoid it - for the present or the future. In this case, showing empathy to any partner I have, serves me - but I say every form of empathy, if we dig down to the root of it, is done to serve us in some way, direct or indirect.
A Lesson from a thing:
I listened to a book recap of "Thinking fast, and slow", a famous book that presented us with the fact that we operate with 2 systems - System 1, intuitive, reactive, more primal, and system 2, logical, thoughtful, etc.
I caught onto the whole systems idea 4 years ago while in Costa Rica. I took a 5-week vacation, that consisted of me taking 4-5 hours of yoga a day, writing, journaling, and being alone. It was exhausting, but I reached a lot of meaningful insights, including what I called "Tom 1" and "Tom 2", Tom 1 being the Tom that likes to engage with life without thinking too much, who lets energy flow, who behaves authentically without calculating where energy should be invested, who doesn't overcomplicate things with life and relationships.
Then there's Tom 2, the nerd who keeps control of everything, and saves his life force for god knows what, at the expense of not investing energy in his relationships, overthinking them in the process.
At the time I thought - if only I can be Tom 1 all the time, I would be popular with people, friendly, and successful. I tried to force it. Experience over the last few years taught me that, yes, indeed, my relationships become better the more authentic my behavior becomes, but forcing it doesn't work for the long run, and that there's a place for Tom 2 in relationships, in applying empathy, in not reacting on things we initially interpret wrong, and more.