I’m sitting in Starbucks doing some work for my job. Since I have been recovering from two surgeries, I have been telecommuting quite often which I must say is rather nice!! I work from home most of the time and am now going into the office part time as well. It’s nice to see all of my coworkers, but the typical stress and chaos is ever present. Since I cannot climb the stairs, I am sitting at a sort of a desk downstairs. Not bad, just different. Anyway, I am here at Starbucks (what am I drinking, you ask? Grande black iced tea, extra ice and one pump of sweetener, $2.85!) and trying to focus on my laptop and my reports to complete, but it’s challenging.
Two older gentleman sat down right near me and I have been listening to them talk. The one man is talking about taking a job and how he needs to make money somehow because Social Security won’t pay all his bills. What a scary thought that someday I could very well be in that position. I try not to think about it, but at 51, those days seem closer than not. One of the gentleman then started talking to his friend about how his wife has been diagnosed with a pulmonary problem and it is fatal! She has less than a year to live and is only 66! Goodness, how sad and what an odd feeling to sit and hear this man’s story without him even knowing. As the background jazz music plays I hear the lives of these two men and it makes me sad….for them and for me. Why me? I suppose when I hear people talk about their spouses it makes me sad. I don’t have a spouse and haven’t for almost 13 years. Sure I dated but the last five years I rather gave up. For now anyway. I do wish I had a spouse when I hear people talk (ahhh but that is for another blog). I then think of this man losing his wife soon, I am so sad for him and grateful I am not in the position he is in.
I know I have to get up and walk away. Hearing other people’s pain can be so hard for me. Mental illness or not, it is easy to wrap myself up into other people’s grief. I want to take it away from that person, but I know I can’t. And, I have to remember that it can bring me down. I know that I am a very empathetic person which can have its disadvantages at times, for me anyway. The internal pain I can feel when I hear of other’s pain can be quite damning to my heart. It has taken me many years to sort out what is healthy and what is not healthy for me to be witness to. At least I can sort it out most of the time.
It is now later in the day and I did get up and leave. I knew that the gentlemen’s conversation had moved onto other topics – the weather, the news, the aches and pains of arthritis – I felt not as sad as I left. I decided to take my car through the car wash and it made me laugh as I sat there noticing all of the foam and bubbles and “washer snakes” pummeling my car; I felt like I was cleansing my brain at the same time as my car. I was taking a mindful moment in the car wash and I didn’t know it until it happened!
When you are in a situation where there is a lot pain and grief of others around you, take a moment and gauge how YOU are feeling. Is your heart beating faster, are you wanting to cry, are you feeling just out of sorts and you don’t know why? Maybe it’s time for break from your current surroundings, even if only for a moment. And who knows, maybe you will find your own mindful car wash!!!