One Supposition of Knowing
One Supposition of Knowing
A Study in Empathy
Let us begin – and end – this particular and unobjective study, this my supposition of knowing, with human beings. The place – a popular seaside resort in England. The time – a sunny day in July in the year, according to one causal solar calendar, 2010 ce.
There is a wide promenade along, beside, the sandy beach, suffused with people – a mix of families (young parents, young children), couples young and old, and groups of elderly people, most of whom are here for a few days staying in seaside hotels and brought and collected by coach, and some of whom are here for the day, coach brought from cities and towns.
I walk along this promenade, aided by a trusty walking stick of Oak – an ageing man of greying hair whose conventional mode of dress (Tweed jacket; woollen trousers; flat cap) marks him as just one more elderly visitor indulging in the now venerable English tradition of pottering beside the sea. Seats (benches) are plentiful as the promenade spreads out from the Pier, and – on sunny days – they are almost always occupied as the hour of Noon approaches.
A tumult of faces – mostly happy – as I walk. Each person a living being with their own feelings, hopes, dreams, memories – sometimes caught when eyes meet; and especially when, as not that often, there is a human response – my smile returned and so for an instant of acausal Time a connexion made as something of the essence of that one living being becomes passed to me, far beyond words. An impression of their life – a wordless elation of knowing that, as one wave breaking upon the sandy shore, is soon gone, dispersed by our moving-on. Or, as well they may be, are these and most or any or all of such intuitive feelings of mine only some inner silly child-like presumption? I do not know, nor worry – for they, as warm Sun on hands, arm, face, feel and seem so real to this one being walking who now so seldom talks, for long…
Sometimes – a glimpse of sadness, unhappiness, or of inner pain; soon covered; soon gone. And on rare occasions – as when that woman slipped and fell to hard pavement – the empathy of a physical pain, so real there is a physical response in me, for a second or more, and always in the same region of my body making me to momentarily wince.
So many impressions, I become a walking being divorced from any notion of self – a cloud passing by this one sea-shore where human beings dwell, live, interact, and feel. So much wordless knowing it is as if I have no identity of my own, no barriers, and so vulnerable, so very vulnerable, while this child-like state of living lasts.
There – a possibly lonely woman of middle human age who this being feels so needs the warm comfort of a personal love but who so resolutely, it seems, girds herself with a resolute independent public image she so needs to maintain to face each day, again. There – the young child of less than ten years of life, so full of exuberant unthinking joy running down toward the beach of sand and who shrieks, as so young girls often do, when her bare feet enter sea; a bundle of life contained within a so small still growing human body. Where then in that one moment those many years ahead as growth and human living bring change and all those many joys and sorrows, tragedies, hopes destroyed, regained, that await for so many of our kind? Such tender care as her mother rushes after her, worried, protecting, happy, and proud, all wordlessly at once.
So many… for even in/with my intuitive, empathic, supposition of knowing I know I am nothing; and will be nothing – for the sea, centuries, millennia, after I am gone, will wash upon this shore as the tide, Moon-changed, turns, while the Earth rotates as the Earth rotates, bearing such Life as then burgeons and remains. Nothing – damyata; one being, only one temporary being, restrained in Time, loaned to Earth as a child. Only one more human who of so very many passed so briefly by. Nothing – my essence returned to the Cosmos whose changing wyrd brought me forth so very briefly to dwell upon one planet of no importance whatsoever.
There – the elderly lady, wheelchair bound, who still, despite the afflictions that afflict her, returns my smile, and I have to quicken my step since in those eyes were so many glimpses of so many decades that I fear for tears escaping as when last night the Well-Tempered Clavier by JS Bach played and one of the Preludes, as it often does, brought such salted water forth to moisten cheek and beard…
There is a sitting, then, now, in the sand, while human life goes on, often quite loudly, around. Such simple joys, shared, here where a century or more of life, tradition, has melded humans together in such a subtle way that there is, for this moment, this one moment, a certain peace – an allocation of Time to allow each of us, here in this one place which is many the freedom to be as we are encased within our individual, familial, worlds; co-existing peacefully in that strange way we accept, here, for reasons I no longer care or even desire to think or worry about; its very being a sufficiency itself. For I have no answers, now – no questions; and simply am; one fragile being just simply passing by.
No longer my arrogance of assumption. Instead, only a resonance with Life – this one human living, that lives here in no one place now who is but trundling through; one visitor among so many.
There – the young bare chested, sun-tanned, man whose tattooed body, sun-lit, becomes a mobile work of art and whose smile, whose so very English greeting, brings to me the broader smile. For I am only that/this sunlight – there, reflected so briefly from one so very small and wind-caused wave, which falling, falls to slowly ripple to then fade, silent, away.