Saturday, September 22, 2007

Heartbreak & Other Conditions of Boundless Empathy

Just ahead of me in the coffee-shop line today was a little old lady wearing a Winnie the Pooh backpack, some sort of plastic anteater purse, and pink running shoes; she had with her a to-go mug, a handful of change, and glasses that made her eyes look as big as my head...which is huge, at least metaphorically.
Then, SLAM! Down comes the mug on the countertop, making me jump but not the coffee-shop employee - completely unfazed, said staff-member just poured coffee in the mug and curled her hands into a bowl to receive the old lady’s change.
I imagined the crowd-surfing I’d be doing had I done the same thing, getting evicted by a torch-wielding mob and thrown in the gutter, when the coffee-girl said, "have a nice..."
The old lady turned away feebly and mumbled, "I’m goin’, I’m goin,’" like she was being rushed out of the place. I was next in line, but the coffee-girl & I just watched the little old lady shuffle out of the store, and it was very, very sad...upsetting, really.
Once I got my fix of coffee, I hurried outside to watch the little old lady amble down the sidewalk, wondering what I could do while simultaneously understanding that there was nothing I could do; she was just doing her thing, and I felt bad about it.
Constantly toeing the line between compassion and pity, that’s me.
Worse, I spent the rest of the day daydreaming about where she was going, and not one of the scenarios I imagined made me feel any better.

Periodically obsessing about matters beyond my that’s me.

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