Do we make ourselves blind so we don’t see the color of our skin? We could still hear and know the dialect, the language. We would still judge.
Do we also make ourselves deaf? We could still taste, touch and smell and categories would be established to separate us.
Do we remove all the senses and become living vegetables with only our minds to interact within ourselves? Our own thoughts would betray us, leave us utterly trapped in our minds with no way to connect.
Do we stop living, abandon our corporeal self and free the spirit, the very essence of who we are?
Is that what it will take to know that you and I are really the same?
It will happen eventually and you will know the truth regardless.
But why wait?!
Why not know the truth of how we are but reflections of each other in the shards of life.
The truth is here and now:
In seeing the beauty of our skin,
The rhythm of our voices,
The tender kiss as we taste our lovers,
The touch of our hands as we walk together,
The sweet smell of our bodies as we are together in work and sex.
These all satisfy my senses, but it is my heart that knows you. My heart knows the truth. We are the same.
~ Dwight Raatz, Originally written on July 19, 2013
I could feel the anxiety rising in my body with my heart beating so hard it felt like it would burst through my chest. My hands gripped the armrests of the chair as I swiveled my head scanning the room for threats. My thoughts began to race as I looked into each person’s face for clues. Could it be the big guy with a beard sitting alone at the table staring at his beer? Or maybe the woman in booth with her back to me. She kept jerking her head left and right as she spoke with her hands and arms to the person sitting across from her. I looked at the body language for any hint of a person who was about to stand up and start causing maximum damage. But all I could see were couples and families enjoying their evening out.
The day had started out so completely normal and mundane. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in June and my wife, Melissa, and I were wrapping up a full day of yard work at our duplex in South Minneapolis. I had worked up quite the appetite and was looking forward to relaxing with a meal and some good conversation. As I was putting the last of the tools in the shed, I saw Melissa walking toward me big smile on her face.
“We really got a lot accomplished today didn’t we?”
“Yes, indeed!”, I said. “How about we get out of here and walk down to Matt’s Bar for a Jucy-Lucy and fries?”
“I think that sounds great!”, she said.
The walk was enjoyable as we observed our neighbors in various stages of their own Saturday projects. We navigated the alleys and sidewalks while we took in the beautiful flower gardens and landscapes along the way.
“Beautiful day today.”, she said.
“Yes indeed it is. I hope it is so beautiful, that most people will be at the lakes and not going to Matt’s tonight.”, I said with a wink. “ It seems like there’s always a line down the block waiting to get in.”
As we neared the bar, we were surprised there was no one standing outside. Usually there is a line reaching partway down the block. Once we reached to bar, I grabbed the door so we could step inside only to be stopped cold by the backup of people waiting for a table. This is not surprising because Matt’s Bar is a bit of a legend in the city and the self-proclaimed originator of the Jucy-Lucy hamburger. The Jucy-Lucy is a 1/2 lb hamburger that is stuffed with cheese and fried on a griddle behind the bar. The burger is legendary for not only the taste, but also the good possibility of 2nd degree cheese burns if you are not careful taking that first bite.
When we finally made it to our table Melissa paused for me to choose my seat. While I enjoy a good burger, being in an overly crowded space can be a bit daunting for me because I’m an empath. Being an empath basically this means that I can experience the feelings and emotions of people around me as if they were happening to me. I can also see and feel volumes of information from a person’s body language. I’ve learned to manage some of these experiences by positioning myself to easily observe the space around me.
At first it seemed like a safe location. We were seated in a booth at the back of the bar within a few feet of the emergency exit door. The room was crowded but I had a good view in general. The feelings of rising anxiety and fear are familiar and I could sense that it was becoming more intense by the second. I knew the feeling wasn’t mine but I couldn’t ignore the panic and vibration that was building in my chest and legs. I glanced at Melissa and noticed a look on her face as she watched me. She said, “Are you okay? What’s wrong?. Why are you breathing so fast? Your legs bouncing so much it’s shaking the table!”
I said in a hushed but urgent tone, “I think we need to get out of here. There is something bad about to happen. I’m feeling really scared, like I want to run as fast as I can.”
She understood the kind of messages I get sometimes. The premonitions, feelings and visions that would guide me away from danger or knowing the right way to turn when we are lost in a parking ramp looking for our car. It was only a month earlier when returning home from a vacation on the metro-train, when I could feel someone on the train watching us. When we got off at our stop, the man walked parallel to us down the platform and slightly behind us. As I looked, I could see that he was watching us and adjusting his walking speed to trail us closely. I grabbed my wife’s hand and said, “We have someone following us. Don’t look back.” We quickened our pace and switched to the other side of the street. In looking back, I saw the man stop at the entrance of a nearby bar and stare at us for a long time before opening the door and ducking inside.
This time it was different. The feeling of urgency was so intense, I could barely sit still. My eyes continued to look for clues from each person’s face, or in the tone of their voice. In the distance I heard glass breaking near the bar. I jerked my head in that direction only to see the aftermath of a patron having crashed into a waiter carrying a full tray of dishes. That wasn’t it, the feeling persisted and got stronger.
Melissa said suddenly, “I think I know what’s going on. There is a couple sitting right behind you that appear to be arguing. It looks like the woman is in a lot of stress, she’s very animated!” I turned slightly to catch a glimpse of the people behind me. I saw a woman and man likely in their mid-thirties seated at a small table. The man had a military style hair cut and the shirt he was wearing was stretched tight over his bulging muscles that vibrated under the fabric. He had both of his hands with the palms down on the table top. He was not moving or speaking and looked directly at the woman.
The woman I saw was quite the contrast to the man. She was less than half his size, with very skinny arms and body. She was dressed casually with a white blouse and jeans and hair done up in a bun. While the man appeared to be calm, she was nothing but this. She was not yelling. As a matter of fact, I could hardly make out her hushed tones, but I could see that she was speaking very fast and with a powerful intent. She frantically moved her arms and pointed at the man occasionally poking him in the chest with a disgusted look on her face. All the while, the man never moved or spoke. His face and body was slightly turned away from me but I could feel that the majority of the intense emotions were rushing off from him like ocean waves being pushed by a strong wind. The woman kept up her tirade toward the man, occasionally poking him in the chest. The intensity on her face was so extreme you could see a vein in her forehead bulging as her eyes narrowed and spittle flew from her lips.
I looked back at Melissa and said, “This isn’t going to be pretty.” And just then I heard a loud scream from behind me, but it sounded like a man’s voice. I swung around in my seat to see an unbelievable site. The table they were sitting at was tipped over and the man was lying on the floor covering his face with his arms pleading with the woman, “Please don’t hurt me. I won’t do it again!” The woman stood over him holding one of the bar chairs over her head ready to strike. Before I knew what was happening, a woman from the next table leaped up and grabbed the chair. She brought her knee up and pushed it directly into the gut of the angry woman causing her to topple back onto the table behind her knocking the wind out of her.
In that moment, the bar had gone completely silent. The man on the floor laid on his side bawling his eyes out and was shaking uncontrollably. The woman who had come to his rescue bent down and patted him on the arm and quietly told him he was going to be alright. A couple of guys from her table stood up and grabbed the woman lying on the tables and escorted her out of the bar as she muttered and groaned.
The man slowly stood up and with the help of the woman and I could see his red eyes and tear drenched cheeks. Then something amazing happened. The other patrons had righted the table and the man sat down. Several people near him gave him a pat on the back and told him he was going to be okay. They told him he was alright by them and he didn’t need to be with a person that didn’t appreciate him.
In a few more minutes the bar noise had returned to it’s former levels and everyone turned back to their meals and conversation. I noticed the woman who had helped him was now sitting at his table holding his hands and smiling. The man looked very shaken but an occasional smile crept across his face as he relaxed. I could sense the huge amount of energy I once felt dissipate into a faint mist.
I turned back to Melissa and breathed a sigh of relief. I now knew where the urgency was coming from. This wasn’t the relaxing evening I thought we would be having after a hard day’s work, but we were able to salvage the remaining time we had at Matt’s. We enjoyed the Jucy-Lucy burgers and fries delivered steaming hot at our table only minutes later.