empathy is a life skill

As I was driving into the parking lot at work I saw one of my favorite barista crossing the road. Her face was red and that worried me. I looked closely and she had tears in her eyes. As I took a turn, and watched her in my rear view, I saw her wipe her tears with her sleeve. She was indeed crying.

For some reason, her red face and tears in her eyes filled me up. I parked the car and to my surprise I started crying too.

There was nothing on my mind this morning. It was blank. I was simply enjoying the music on my drive in. Just looking at her, moved me to tears. And I experienced a very raw emotion.

As humans we share each other’s pain. We are impacted by each other’s actions, emotions and expressions. The reaction is raw, unfiltered. It is a blessing to be able to tap into that raw side of yourself. It catches you by surprise. It reassures you about being human, and being flawed, or just simply touched.

I don’t know why my barista was crying. I don’t know her story. And perhaps I never will. But just seeing a known face in tears was enough to upset me. How beautiful is this human connection we experience every day. And how little do we understand it and take time to reflect on it.

Later in the afternoon when I went to the cafe, I noticed that she was not there. Another barista from another building was covering for her. I wanted to ask him where she was. But I had other pressing things on my mind and I didn’t. But now I am worried about her. Her little red face and wet eyes are on my mind. My eyes become wet when I think of her.

There are named relationships and there are unnamed ones. My barista and I share an unnamed relationship. It is beautiful. I cherish it.  She will never know how much time I spent thinking about her today.  And that makes this unnamed relationship special. It has no ties, no expectations, no obligations.  It is simply a human connection that I value.

I wish people were more mindful of the impact they have on others, and be more receptive of the impact others can have on us. If we could all be a little more tuned in to each other’s feelings and emotions, we can help in making this world a little better.

Empathy, in my humble opinion, is a life skill. We are all born with it. Some of us hone the skill, and some let it wither. It can be learnt from self reflection, but unfortunately it cannot be taught.

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