I have never found it entertaining to watch people get hurt on tv “ video” shows. It is physically painful just watching. I have never found it entertaining to watch someone on tv in a situation that is very uncomfortable for them….it becomes very uncomfortable for me. There is an overwhelming ache of uselessness in knowing I possess no ability to intervene and help them. So is the life of an Empath. I suggest to you that it can be truly painful to the spirit. It is also the pain I experience when watching a lifeless child being scooped up off a foreign shoreline, or the nameless face of a war victim, stunned and shell shocked, calmly wiping blood from his 3 year old eyes….Pure agony.
It might be hard to believe that I suffer from this overload of sappy empathy. Stupid to some, I’m sure of it. Ironic since I have looked into the faces of numerous dead babies- victims from abuse, held the hand of children too afraid to talk of the monster in their home, and listened to the cries of women who were raped at the hand of a trusted friend. But in those situations I could help or at least try to make a semblance of such. That is what an Empath does.
I believe that the nature of an Empath can be found in many progressive liberals. It is necessary for us to feel the pain, the joy, and the despair of the desperate. It is within us to try to make life better for them. We are mocked for our bleeding hearts and our inability to see the justice in survival of the fittest. We are tomorrow’s victims in the world of bullies and yesterday’s crybabies. We find life bound together with others not by our differences but by our souls. We care too much… to the dissatisfaction of some.
Today, my spirit and soul hurt with such pain. I know there are many very fearful and overwhelmed people in America who do not know what tomorrow will bring. In life, competition is the daily bread for many. In life, many cannot afford bread nor have the will to compete. Someone must feed their spirit and guard their souls and we take it upon ourselves to do it. If you are not an Empath this may never make sense to you, but if you are, I send you many hugs. Almost intolerable at times, this witnessing of empowered haters and racists, misogynists and those who just simply don’t get looking out for the other guy takes its toll. So I say to you, be kind to yourself dear empathetic friends. Rest well, reduce the toxicity around you and connect with like individuals. You are needed to continue the call…and the caring. This is your painful truth.
It becomes part of our being, hugging us like skin. Not something that you can slip off at night and toss on the floor with the clothing of the day. No, attitude is much deeper and harder to change. Attitude begins to grow within us as babies when we are introduced to the world around us. We learn to love, we learn to hate, we learn to discern as bad and good. Yet somewhere along the journey of life, some of us may find ourselves consumed with the negative…like straining to see in the dark of the night…only making out the bad things around us.
Many times a parent declares, “I don’t like your attitude” or “you need to change your attitude” without understanding how difficult this process of change can be… We are asking one to quickly morph into another… or face our consequences. Yet we as parents have helped define their attitudes. Combine that with the world we currently live in…wow it is a ticking time bomb. Take a moment and consider that children are living in a very complex world today. You and I may have walked a mile to school (I confess I did not) but we never dealt with the intensity and gravity of cyber bullying. We may have had to eat what was on our plate or go hungry ( I hated roast beef) yet we never felt the aggression and severe emotional pressure many kids of today experience. Today for fun, our children occupy their time with a never-ending visual stimulation of violence through our media and high def gaming videos. They kill with a deft handling the game a skill once acquired by playing jacks or marbles. They watch live social media capturing death, destruction, mayhem and violence. Some kids have had siblings, friends, parents die on the streets. Today doomsday preppers are glamorized on tv as they are proudly hording guns and ammunition…life and death, killing and survival concepts discussed as matter of fact like cooking shows and recipes. It has become a harsh world. Attitudes become armor to protect from that which is so difficult to deal with in life. And we are partially responsible as parents. As adults we become blind to the attitudes we carry as we strive to make the dollar, pay the bills and seek our own escape from the craziness. But we all travel with deep feelings and beliefs that keep us separated from each other. And we teach our children to do the same. Attitudes, they are so hard to change…
So what happens to tomorrow if there is not a positive shift in attitude? What happens if the adults do not begin to see that their bigotry, intolerance and closed minds are imprinted upon their children? I do not want to go there. Attitude…while deeply ingrained does carry ability to change. We see an epiphany realized by the family who adamantly declares strong anti-gay attitudes…until a loved one comes out. We see the ability to empathize during a natural catastrophe…as strangers extend a hand or even risk their life for another. Why is it only then that we are willing to see beyond the dark…why is it only then that we feel we are all a part of a larger whole? Those beautiful moments when a connection of respect for life of another is made with no thought of what is to be gained in return- action without attitude.
I often wonder why we wait until desperate times to rise above our attitudes. Why do we join the cause only after we feel personally affected by the war. Cancer, poverty, unemployment, inequality, gun violence, bullying, racism, sexual abuse, domestic violence, addiction…on and on they march in front of us. Our attitudes block us from the fight unless life has chosen to throw us through the ropes. Only then do many of us awaken and see that the fight is worthy. We take up our sword and add cause to our existence. But I ask, why wait?
Facing social issues tends to cause more cramping and discomfort than constipation for many. Therefore, denial becomes the medicine that is fed by those who themselves fear evolution of the human spirit from intolerance to acceptance. I think these same individuals would certainly still shout that the earth is flat because it was so written- if it were not for the brave, adventurous souls who dared to prove them wrong. To them change is dangerous, as it opens the doors of freedom of thought and discovery…away from the safety of rote thinking.
I admit there is some benign comfort in hiding behind blind traditional beliefs. Recitation and rituals of psalms and pledges- even if one does not take the time to understand the meaning behind the words spoken. Tradition is comfortable and soothing with little responsibility of individual input and thought processing. Our morals and values dictated to us from those before us. The ways of the world mapped out already and the road ahead marked for us with directional signs clearly pointing which way we shall travel and how we shall think. We are assured that to follow along is the road to redemption. But is that really what traveling through life is all about? Only taking a glance at a detour sign when you hit a bump in the road. Only turning off from tradition when you are personally affected by the journey ahead. The desire to further question only then appears as a viable option…and thus one turns down the road less traveled.
Oh the road taken only by those whose journey includes a search to understand humanity, society, morals and coexistence. Those willing to unmask tradition and seek deeper meaning to life beyond the man made boundaries that currently exist. Those who find more hard questions and less easy answers. Sadly, this road is mostly driven on by those on a personal mission for clarity. For the love of another overrides blind tradition and stirs one past intolerance quicker than anything else. Love seeks acceptance for another. Love has brought them here…to the road less traveled.
It is my sincere wish that in the quietest of moments, full of solitude and spirit- more people would dare to turn away from the easy road. Not waiting until a personal crisis pulls them to do so. Our society is pleading for our attention and deep reflection. Turn to the road less traveled and use empathy for humanity as your map. Be brave, consider if you must- how would you feel if personally affected by the issues of today in some other unique way before such presents itself to you to face in your tomorrows ….take the road less traveled.
There is a chance that you and I may never have to personally face many of our societal issues but we must still own them as our own. Less we forget, we are a family of humanity on this planet. Someone else is facing the trials of intolerance, bullying, bigotry and the humiliation of homelessness. Someone else has lost a loved one to a senseless shooting or the abhorrent hold of addiction. Someone else is hanging on- just waiting for you and I to extend a hand without judgement but as an equal. I urge you to think deeper about all sides of an issue….and take the road less traveled.
Some thoughts on what I am thankful for….I have limited myself to those random thoughts that immediately flooded my head…the ones that rushed in as I opened the gates. They seemed most eager to express themselves…yet know there are many more unwritten that I have not pulled from my heart and painted with words.
I am thankful for the wonderful yellow sun…warming me from inside out and making me squint into a wrinkled smile – I can not imagine life without it
I am thankful for the summer breeze that cools my skin when I think I can barely take the sweltering heat of the sun for one more minute
I am thankful for spring which is the earth’s promise to me that new life is forthcoming and once again I will be captivated by rows of exquisite flowers for sale with lush shades of color coaxing me to once more try my hand at gardening
I am thankful for the autumn change of leaves, the beauty of which astounds me and takes away my sadness at my gardening failures now withering before me
I am thankful for the brisk winter cold, for without it I don’t know if I would fully appreciate the ongoing heat of the summer
I am thankful for the courtesy of others, strangers who hold the door open when my hands are full- I hope to return the favor by instinct and not obligation
I am thankful for the kindness of others, who are willing to acknowledge my presence with a smile or a hello, as I hope to do in return
I am thankful for color…..what would life be like in black and white…never to look at the sunset or sunrise with the amazing glows of pinks, reds and purples…the green grass after a rain…and the blue sky above me….oh I could go on about color which is one of my favorite things in life
I am thankful for love…the feeling of completeness that it gives me…purpose…and connection with others. My friends and my family, loved ones here and gone- so important to my past and imprinted onto my future and always present
I am thankful for those who have taught me about the hardships of life: pain, fear, suffering. For without their courage, my life would not be the same. Showing me that life is so much more and coaxing me to think outside of the box time and time again.
I am so thankful for those who encourage my dreams and hopes and love me for who I am. Laughing with me at life and holding me when I cry. They accept my quirks, my off track thoughts and liberal values.
I am thankful for awakening the ability to feel compassion and empathy for others- I truly feel connected to a life truth in some way as I witness another’s life with a semblance of understanding. A gift so to speak that we all have – yet many never opened. I love this particular awakening and encourage anyone else to seek it.
I am thankful for my breath- for the ability to draw upon it at those moments when stress and emotions take hostage of my body, a deep intoxicating breath that grounds my feet and clears my head. Always there to the end, breath gets me through the hardest moments.
I am thankful for my days upon this earth, and if I should end my time here tomorrow…I would be thankful for having experienced this amazing journey.
I wear my emotions on my sleeve, all there for others to see- a designer label of sorts and every bit as expensive. But I am willing to pay the price. You see, my return is greater and worth the cost.
I appreciate that I can freely cry tears of unabashed joy, painful sorrow and even those unexpected- yet welcome “let go” tears coming from my spirit deep within me. I respect the salty tears that make their way down my face. They help make me a better, kinder person. Empathy is the valve – opening it lets the waters flow. It is as simple as taking me to a sad movie and if I have read the book- I will cry before the opening credits. I tear up as I watch someone in pure happiness on tv, my eyes fill quickly as I behold despair and destruction. Empathy has been one of the biggest teachers in my life. I am forever grateful for having the ability to remove myself from me and give a bit of me to another even if just for a moment. Seeing their struggle, their life experience outside of my own
Many people tend to think that crying is a weakness…oh but they are wrong. It takes a strong person to give up the control of their emotions and feel…really feel life. Being able to wander away from my comfort zone and into the uncomfortable in front of me. Embracing the unrefined moments and being witness to raw humanity is powerful as I let it take me along. It is not always pleasant but it is real. It can cause me grief, anxiety and lamentation. It can be extremely painful to partake. However, looking beyond gives me a sense of connection, peace and humility.
I fear that many people in this hectic, dog eat dog world have forgotten to empathize. Making empathy a lost art, they now walk around disconnected with others. No longer taking the time to listen and validate others lives…instead voice mails, texts and emails are sent. It is easy to fool oneself in thinking that one is more connected than ever. However, refusing to walk in the shoes of others, seeking only that which serves one’s own interests. Bullying, bigotry and intolerance begin to soak the soles- as well as the souls. Where are we headed, I ask. I don’t know…I do know that I will continue to seek that special connection that empathy brings…it is worth the price I pay.
I marvel at her inner strength. She has repeatedly faced the harsh winds of adversity head on. Invariably conscious of what the challenge may bring and prepared to give it her all. I should have known. I saw this in her as a young child learning to walk and talk. As a little one, she strived to reach her milestones as if running a race with her brothers. Gymnastics…soccer…softball…track… basketball…volleyball- always a true competitor and loyal teammate. Scholastics…perfection was her goal and she was incessantly prepared to do her best. I should have known. Fearless she traveled across the world to study in a country, knowing no one. I should have known.
I marvel at her tenacity. Through the years she has faced many a challenge but has never given up. Numerous surgeries, chronic illnesses and ongoing visits to specialists. She has maintained a clear head, strong voice and determination to pull all she can from life. I should have known.
I marvel at her inner beauty. Shining through her is a compassion and empathy for others that radiates like the warm sun. Something so beautiful, something that can not be taught but must come from the soul. Her patience makes me awestruck. Her demeanor – proud. I should have known.
So today, as I sat in another Dr.’s office with her- I looked at this amazing young woman. Once again strong, her inner resources ready to face another challenge. Purposeful and resolute in understanding what she is up against, who her next competitor will be. I see her staring this provocation down like she did so many times before. I should have known. She will meet another adversary…duel another day…and give it her all. She will do this with grace. I will always be there by her side to cheer her on, I will always admire her determination. I should have known.
I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be
– Robert Munsch