Adventures in Empathy…………?

Having awoken I go through my usual morning routine.
Strong , hot coffee with the usual breakfast cigarette sitting on the decking looking out onto my ramshackle garden.
Providing my dream time has not been excessively infiltrated by seemingly high definition, Kafkaesque imagery my mind usually starts the day in a kind of tabula rasa modality. That is to say ‘not a lot going on’.
Taking in the dank,early morning air my mind gradually fills with a mixture of recent memories, vague plans for the day an reflections on recently read articles that have instilled in me a sense of intrigue.
These thoughts start off innocuous enough.
– An excerpt from an interview with Carl Jung where he discusses the tendencies of intuitive introverts which seems to me a pretty accurate description of an empath
– A recollection of yesterdays evening walk around a nearby ancient hillfort as the Sun was setting on the horizon. Searing sunlight blazing ochre behind the clouds redolent of seams of lava breaking through the Earth
– A mentally sketched plan to get out and do a little photography hoping to catch some images of Summers tentative withdrawal making way for the initial tendrils of Autumn subtly tinging Natures landscapes.

Returning to the kitchen I remember that I’m nearly out of coffee.
I carefully consider as to whether my need for further caffeine outways my apprehension of walking to the local shop and getting involved in the outside world so early in the day. Having donned sunglasses and a thin cotton hoodie I deem that the need for coffee is greater.
Walking out on to the street I realise that I was perhaps a little unprepared for the subsequent inundation of stimuli from the outside world.
– The roar of car engines as certain drivers manifest their ire and frustration in the manner of their driving
– A radio station on high volume from a closely parked car carries the news of abject suffering of women and children in a not so far away land ( my heart withers slightly on hearing this )
– A father roughly pulls his child by the arm and loudly berates him in front of commuters, the child’s only sin being that he is a child, full of energy, intrigue and playfulness. I know the child feels pained , vulnerable and hurting but still looks at his father in unwavering love
– An elderly lady hobbles precariously just ahead of me. As I pass I smell the odour of stale alcohol from her. Her rheumy eyes seemingly out of focus, unable to acknowledge my passing. Many an amount of alcohol she has consumed in an attempt to dull her past pain, to drown out those unbearable feelings of despair wrought upon her by others misdeeds. What was once her crutch had become her ultimate demise, lost in a world of welcome drunken incoherence.

I suddenly find myself at my front door having relinquished the hazardous trek. I had apparently decided somewhat unconsciously that this was something that had to be done later, probably when it was dark.
That brief journey had left me breathless with ever escalating feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. In the past I would probably have remained in that raw state for the remainder of the day however now that I am aware of my empathic predisposition, I am able to quickly ground myself with mindfulness and meditative techniques.
Empathy is indeed a double edged sword.
It can give us the ability to become sensitive to the most beautiful and exquisite aspects of our lives but also to the darker aspects of ours and others souls.

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