Everyone around us is different, with different fortes of individualism defining our very existence. People fear and discriminate the different because it’s impossible to empathize with someone who cannot be comprehended. The thing is, empathy is what links every individual. And, it is the profound connection of love that gives reason to the human existence. When we learn to hate differences, love will always be out reach. When these differences are embraced, the power of empathy and love will empower the world.
Wet pebbles crunched beneath my heavy combat boots as the dark night hovered over my shoulders like an over-sized coat too heavy for me to bear. My mother, not too far ahead of me, led the way as we approached the entrance. Dangling fairy lights caught my eye as they stretched around the building giving it an amber glow. The glass door opened and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee beans overwhelmed me. We were greeted by a barista whose hair had been pulled up into a loose bun, allowing a few curls to frame her face.
I absorbed the mood of the room as I gazed to the right corner where a group of small musicians were playing. The crowd was friendly and buzzing with witty conversations. Allowing my attention to shift from one item to the next, I noticed a shelf stacked with coffee beans from around the world that omitted the sweet smell I had first encountered. My mother said my name, pulling me back to reality. We received our drinks and headed outside to escape the densely packed room. We sat down in the wooden booth, my back next to the open window. The sounds of laughter, singing, and the echo of the bass guitar bubbled inside me carrying a wide smile to the surface.
My mom gave me my chai tea latte opened at the top where steam arose and the condensation droplets rolled off the lid. Sweet vanilla bean, cinnamon, and nutmeg swirled together gifted the tea with a smooth creamy taste. The temperature of the tea warmed my numb hand, despite the cold of the rain. The glassy road reflected light as cars traveled along the road. Quiet bypassers walked on the sidewalk. I was home.
“So right now my family is taking care of a puppy that’s being trained as a service dog. His name is Bodia, but we call him Bodie. His whole litter was named after Olympic athletes, since they were born during the summer Olympics.
His training is going well! He responds to vocal and hand cues for a variety of tasks aimed at helping disabled people. But he has bad habits too, like digging holes in the yard, tracking mud into the house and playing with logs from the fireplace. He also eats just about anything that falls on the floor.
However, we all still love him and the best part is we get a loveable companion for 18 months; the only one in the house that doesn’t like the dog is our obese cat, Chunkers. Chunkers wasn’t named after an Olympic athlete though.”
I was standing waist-deep in water, and it seemed like I was sinking lower by the second. Even though the icy current only wrapped around my legs, I felt like I was drenched in dread from head to toe. I was vaguely aware of the presence of my dad and brother from somewhere in the vicinity, but what I was really focused on was right in front of me. In the crook of my arm I held a collapsible fishing pole, and in the other, a container filled to the brim with wiggling, fleshy worms. I could only watch in silent horror as they squirmed around. Only one thought occurred to me: If worms could scream would we still fish?