I've always been an over-empathiser. As a child I could barely finish stories like Charlotte's Web, the horror of (sorry, spoiler alert) Charlotte's death being more than I could handle, the various sadnesses felt by everyone who knew her clamouring for superiority in my brain, the one already full up with concern for the many things about which an unempowered 11 year old could do very little. Once I became a mum, I couldn't make it through the old Kleenex tissue ads without needing a box myself; show me a small child and a duckling and I was a goner. Things have improved a little since the continuous sobbing of the breastfeeding years, but I still can't chat more than 5 minutes with an American without acquiring a certain long-vowelled twang that makes me wince even as I speak and yet somehow I am powerless to stop it.
The happier flip side of this 'problem' is that an afternoon spent in the sunshine of somebody else's life can keep me floating buoyantly along on my own current for weeks, because here's the thing;
I think that families are the most important thing. Ever. Anywhere.
It's quite simple really. This is where we learn about love. How it works. Its power and its fragility. How some days it smacks us upside the head, and other times we have to search for and nurture it, like a thing that must not be taken for granted. If we and the world are really going to make it, this is what we need to understand, at least as well as we understand the stock market and the climate and how to stop hurting each other with words and weapons. We need a new definition for our hierarchy of needs, and love needs to be at the bottom or we might not actually get to the next level up, let alone the little one up the top with the shoes and handbags in it.
So, when I am lucky enough to be invited to meet, play with, eat the best roast chicken ever with, and capture a family who knows how all this works and are simply getting on with living it, the power of it takes my breath away. It doesn't just make me happy, it makes me feel like everything in the world will really be all right.
Thankyou, Scott family, and now you've made me cry (again).