My heart grew three sizes this weekend.
While I’m definitely the Grinch of Las Vegas - my 70-something mom and aunt both out-gambled and out-drank me - it was more than just fleeing the Strip for the rocks and the lakes.
Vegas has nice rocks.
It was seeing my brother happy. It was exploring caves and riding a train with a stuffed fox-toting seven-year-old, and buying his love with vanilla ice cream. Sitting by a lake in the twilight while bugs hummed, kids ran, and a new baby kicked.
Some people go to Las Vegas to gamble. I go to sheep-gaze.
It was wholly unexpected and so perfect. My heart definitely grew bigger, and that gives me more faith in myself and my capacity for love.
Before I left, I was telling a friend that I 100% expected this trip to be epic, I just wasn't sure what that epic would entail. Las Vegas epic makes most people think of slot machines and unexpected marriage certificates under an empty tequila bottle on the bedside table - not freshly-hatched babies or a field full of big horn sheep. But that's the kind of epic I prefer these days - and it doesn’t even require a hangover.
But going to Las Vegas with your family will definitely test your empath boundaries. I started to see where some of this grief I've been carrying around for years isn't my own, and realizing anew how hard I have to work to stay clear of what's not mine. When you feel it, you assume it belongs to you, especially if you've been sponging up other people's pain all your life.
It's the challenge of the empath - to remember to ask to whom this emotion belongs. Even when your brain can logically assimilate it to your own experience, pointing to a specific event and saying, "This. Yes, this is why I feel this way. It makes perfect sense." When, in fact, it isn't yours at all - and there's no sense to be made.
God love you, smart empaths. It's not an easy road. Someone told me recently, "You're very smart. But more often than not, your brain completely fucks you." Well...yes.
Luckily, having a stuffed therapy otter in your purse helps.
As we circled Las Vegas, getting ready to land, I got the hit that my father had just reincarnated in India, because he doesn’t want to miss this time, this rebirth of ancient wisdom that's beginning to sweep us clear of multiple dark ages. He hit the re-set button and landed back on planet Earth, ready to go.
Honestly, who knows. As with most intuitive hits, they’re impossible to fact check. You just have to trust - and realize that, in the eternal sense, it ultimately doesn't matter. But it was fun to think about, in those last moments before we landed.
We're all connected to our people - those we know and those we don't yet remember - on this plane and beyond it. It's like my relationship with my brother - fathoms deep and about half an inch wide. Like, we had no idea he had a girlfriend. He just...showed up with her. There was a lot of frantic rearranging of facial expressions, let me tell you.
In the small talk sense, I know more about most of my first dates than I know about my only sibling. But it ultimately doesn't matter - I can feel his heart and so it makes my heart happy when his is happy.
Maybe that's the reward for being an empath. I got to be so happy this weekend in Vegas because he was so happy. When there's that much love gathering, each heart reflects it like a hall of mirrors reflecting a lightbulb. And I got to feel it all - and feel my heart expand with it.