Hello dear Readers,
It has been a long time since we talked. I miss you! And I have been thinking much about many things. Today, I decided to stop thinking and renew writing.
Let me start with a story. It is November, 2019. I am traveling to Destin, Florida for a brief sabbatical vacation. Both to and on my return from Destin, I had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. I needed a lunch of some sort in Charlotte as I waited for my flight both out to Destin and on my return, back home to St. Louis. I am mostly oblivious to the movement and conversations of others when I am 1.) hungry and 2.) on a time schedule to get on an airplane. However, something drew my attention almost against my will. Going to Destin, while waiting in Charlotte, I noticed a gathering of culturally diverse men clustered in a tight circle, speaking in their own vernacular and carrying quite a load of what I perceived as computers, maybe audio-visual equipment. But I am heading TO Destin at this point, so I notice but brush it away. I have the beach and the gorgeous Emerald Coastline on my mind.
My return flight was similar in that I had the layover in Charlotte, time to eat my lunch, and, time to observe people. There was again, a cluster of culturally diverse men, lots of technology equipment and much discussion between them. This time, however, a pilot sat down at a table directly to my right. The moment the pilot sat down, the group looked directly at the pilot. It seemed something about the pilot created a new topic of discussion for them. They pointed to the pilot directly, at one point, he attempted to acknowledge them, but received no response. At this point my sensors inside started a yellow, and maybe edging towards red, blinking within. What was so important to the group about the pilot? The pilot was visibly uncomfortable. I now felt that same discomfort. Was this just a casual discussion about a pilot? Of course, I do not know because I understood not one word of the language the group was using to speak to each other. The pilot became so uneasy that he grabbed his lunch and moved out and onward further down the airport concourse. When the pilot left, I took his cue and left as well.
Within about a week of this incident, a dear friend texted me and said, “three conspiracy theorists all go into a bar together. Coincidence? I think not.” I immediately asked, are you in an airport? In fact, yes, he was.
Are the two incidents connected? I do not know that either. What I do know is that what is now happening with Iran, Iraq, the United States, and now today, Canada and the Ukraine and bombings and crashed airplanes troubles me enough, in light of what I saw twice in Charlotte and my friend saw as well in a different airport location, to ignite my empath caring self and easily get frightened or overwhelmed.
Here is the problem for we empaths. It is in our nature and DNA autopilot response to care. When tragic things begin to happen on a worldwide landscape, my “empath button” not only turns on but, if unchecked, goes to an unhealthy level of involvement in problems too large for me to begin to solve and I head into what is called empathic distress. Empathic Distress occurs when we “carers” get overwhelmed by a barrage of bad news, we cannot solve any of it, and we become paralyzed to take any action. (Definition of Empathic Distress is referenced and created by Compassion Integrity Training, Life University).
So, what are we to do, we “empaths” who care, and can get swept into situations far beyond us to solve, but yet we worry about how to solve them anyway? And they will continue, in some form, to occur with or without our consent.
A wise Rabbi, Rabbi Tarfon said this,
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
My dear fellow empaths, I find this quote both appropriate and comforting. It speaks balance to my heart. No, I cannot do anything at a major political level to tell any of these countries what to do or not to do. I can never solve or rid the world of grief of its own creation. What I can do are simple acts of love and mercy every day in my little microcosm of the earth. I can smile at everyone. I can wave to neighbors. I can pray. I can sign petitions if I so desire. I can attend prayer vigils. I can send my hopes of goodwill and peace out into the universe and hope that those who believe violence solves problems might “catch” my waves of energy that say “please stop fighting”.
So, CARE, yes, absolutely CARE. And don’t abandon world grief because it needs our love. However, at the same time, don’t overwhelm and worry yourself with things that are or feel like enormities in this world and bring grief. These things are daunting and we need not be swallowed up by them.
Encourage, love, care, but do it in a way that keeps you healthy. Many people depend on you daily in your own corner of the world. Take care of them by taking care of you and maybe turn off the daily news reports! If something is going to happen to directly threaten you or your loved ones, I feel certain you will be notified without having to be exposed to terror and frightful world tragedy 4 to 5 times a day.
Care, yes, definitely care. Be your empathic self. I encourage you, as Rabbi Tarfon has said, to not allow yourself to be daunted or swallowed up by the enormity of the grief of the world and yet not abandon it nor abandon your beautiful empath gift. Find your balance between a response of mercy and love and getting so overwhelmed by world tragedy that you drowned in world grief.
With love to you all, I am,
Jo, Your blogger for the day.