I Created a Cave Called Solitude.
Sometimes being an empath is not all it’s cracked out to be. People, often total strangers, talk to me. I sense the story behind the story.
What they are not saying. Their actions reveal more. There is the way they hold their head. Or what they are doing with their hands, how they shift from side to side. Small movements.
The way they are dressed. If they have a dog, the kind of dog, often, the way their dog behaves.
On my nature trail, I pass other ramblers.
They don’t realize the way they walk tells their story
Those walking for exercise? Eyes fixed on a distant target, arms swinging, determined spaced out steps — no time to stop and chat.
Shoulders tilting sharply to the left?” A lifetime of sitting at the computer, right arm angled forward and down to handle the mouse. Now and again, a rare lefty!
Sharp posture, shoulders back, head erect. Former military, yes, sir!
Then there are the amblers with a group of friends, chatting and laughing. Sauntering and now and again stopping to admire a heron fishing boat going by.
Alone? Either a casual one-foot-after-the other and in no hurry. Or, marching right along, obviously having to get this walking thing done because other chores are waiting.
I sense their lives — their moods
The couple that always has walking music. He smiles, and she calls out a greeting. The jogging couple, maybe ex-military in the way they run in step, arms at the right angle. Thin, wiry, and fit. Did they meet somewhere on deployment?
The lady that bikes. She’s a cartoon in motion. Her seat is too low, and her legs go outwards and then come up near her ears.
Always smiling: I commented on that, and her reply, “Why not?”
She’s the cause of my smile. I unfortunately or fortunately saw myself reflected in my phone as I turned it on and freaked. Was that miserable lined frowning face me in repose? Yup, it was.
Henceforth I decided to “think” smile. I checked, and the mere thought “smile” had softened the lines on my face and made me look friendly.
Approachable. Kind. Everyone’s grandmother. The homemade cookies and soft powdered cheeks archetype
The bikers that fly past kitted out in Tour de France apparel, forgetting this is a walkway and not a bikeway, I tune out. The slow bikers appreciate my moving the dogs out of the way. Some even say “thank you.” They have complex stories as well.
There’s one walker I’ve never seen smiling. She barely greets. And only in return. Never first. She walks in purpose. Channeling her frustration into her walking. It’s just short of a jog. What could’ve happened in her life to cause this?
I give them stories: If they do stop to talk, I’m rarely wrong in what I’ve sensed
On a sidewalk, the young all-American couple with two cute Asian kids. A toddler and a little girl. She holds a baby, and I have a feeling it is their own, a long-awaited child. But it’s the toddler that draws my attention. A sweet, active little boy that squats to pat my dog.
She leans down and says, “Now remember next time first to ask, ‘May I please pat your dog.’’’
Her attitude and remark were not for my benefit. This is the way she treats her adopted children. I sense the love and caring. And a happy little boy.
On a beach walk, young women in skimpy bikinis and slathered with oil abound. Chattering and giggling. Aware of their bodies and the hot guys around. They have much to learn, and I wish them well. I hope the road to wisdom does not have many side trips and potholes.
I hope in time to come they find their inner caves.
I find myself in a crowded restaurant with a lovely couple. Lifelong friends. She’s a talkative energetic person and leads a busy life. But it’s there to fill a void she’s not aware of. She’s too busy being busy with project after project.
The background chatter becomes an ambient noise. I still myself. My cave beckons. I retreat gratefully.
I listen. Make the right reply at the right time. Nod my head and ask the right questions. Espouse bonhomie left right and center. I’m the perfect dinner partner.
I’m still there, but I’m not there.
No, being an empath is not easy.
And my mind goes to the Desert Fathers.
“ The early Christian abbas and ammas knew this and first insisted on finding the inner silence necessary to tame the obsessive mind. Their method was originally called the prayer of quiet and eventually referred to as contemplation. It is the core teaching in the early Christian period, but it has been emphasized much more in the Eastern Church than in the West.” — Father Richard Rohr.
And then the punchline, for me, that is:
“When you’re in your mind, you’re hardly ever at peace, and when you’re at peace, you’re never only in your mind.”
Inspired by https://cac.org/the-prayer-of-quiet-2020-01-21/