I sit on a shaded log resting on a sea cliff.

Twenty yards behind me there is a path upon which those who step deliver to my ears the occasional snippets of conversation. They create enough sound to join the chorus of crashing waves but never more than I can tolerate.

I have never seen the log upon which I sit occupied by another. I can only imagine that the dense thicket of branches to the right and left of it dissuades those whose desire is an unobstructed view of the sky and ocean. To one who lives in a room with a view of nothing, this branched window is more than satisfactory; indeed, its very “faults” are what award me this luxurious privacy.

The tree to my right looks as though it belongs in a forest next to a warlock’s hovel. It enchants the part of me that is so deeply drawn to scary and macabre tales. It comforts me.

I feel a pang of hunger and reach into my book bag for a food bar. I look out over the ocean. Nobody has walked the path for minutes. I slide down to the ground and lean back against the log, accompanied only by the sound of the birds, breeze, branches and waves.

I wish I could tell my reader that I am happy here but that would be a lie. I cannot discern if it is my heart that insists on its pain or if the pain insists on my heart. The relief I feel can best be described by saying that here I do not feel mad. Here I feel no compulsion to pace around restlessly.

Without the restlessness I can more clearly discern the causes of my painful madness.

I am unable to manage my own empathy which leads me, quite paradoxically, to a collapse that allows only numbness. I am an empath who needs to work a high volume caseload to pay for life’s necessities. My physical survival, in short, comes at the expense of my emotional survival.

Another aspect of this pain derives from my longing. Longing for touch. Longing for company. Longing for “my person”. Only one of my readers will understand this analogy (perhaps my only reader): I am a Laurie without an Amy. And she who I believe is best suited to be Amy is not destined for me. What would have become of Laurie without Amy?

As a younger man (perhaps even only a couple of years ago) I would have experienced this as romantic: longing for an unhappily married woman who knows that I am their true love. But there is nothing romantic about it. It is just disappointing, sad and pathetic. And there is nothing romantic about this childish self-pity and envy and jealousy. It simply creates more emptiness.

It saddens me that I will have to depart soon. That I will have to return to my apartment and my painful longings. Someday I hope to be free of longing; to be without wants or hopes. Not through the flimsy solution of cynicism or through the phony enlightenment I see surrounding me, but through my own personal acceptance of what I was put on this earth to endure.

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