I just drove by a Mexican restaurant that is now very much not a Mexican restaurant. I know this because the sign has changed to something very much non-Mexican—no “Las” or “El” in sight, no flaming fajitas in smell.
No, the Mexican restaurant has given way to something else entirely, and, based on my last visit to the former restaurant, the owners didn’t sell their business for boatloads of money and retire to some fetching beach. Indicators were that it was a failing business, that has now finished the process of failing and has arrived in full at failure.
And it proves you just never know. Just months ago, I was eating tacos there, complaining that the service was a bit slow. The food wasn’t great, nor were the prices–facets that matched my not-so-great attitude rather aptly.
I didn’t see the big picture. I didn’t see a family business struggling to get by: short-staffed, stressed out, and probably fearful of what they were inevitably moving toward as they served their too-few customers.
And now they are gone. And so too is my moment of empathy. I cannot share any hope with them; I cannot encourage them; I cannot pray for them or wish them well, come what may. I spent my time with them not walking in their shoes, but instead complaining at the sight and the clunky sound of them.
I don’t know if the end came quick—like a thief in the night—for them or if it was a drawn out fight. But I know that failing to maintain business over time, resulted at their absolute failure as a business. And so too does my failing at being an empathetic person to the world around me—a lost world groping for light—move me ever-closer toward absolute failure, and a failure that goes well beyond that of the business nature.
And it is for this reason I must change. Continually I must allow for transformation to painfully search my heart and make it new—make it one open for the business of empathy.