A Story About Remembering Who we Are
Amazing things happen to us unexpectedly – rare are the moments we are allowed to truly connect to our past and get in touch with who we were at one point. Suddenly we can find ourselves there, left vulnerable like a motherless child. These moments happen when mysterious wormhole appear out of nowhere transporting us to the past and for one moment, the person we are today can talk to the one in the past.
It was an uneventful day at work. The PM shift gets pretty crazy at times but usually after 8 PM it all starts winding down. Patients go to their beds and dinner is over. Most of the medications have been passed and there is usually a break and a time to sit down and start charting. From time to time a street person will knock on the door or simply walk into the building wanting something, maybe seeking information but usually they are crazy and homeless. We have to be careful about people like that because we never know if they’re violent, so we pay close attention to these individuals.
So this guy in his early 20’s just walks through the front door. He is skinny and has long hair, he is a little scruffy but not disheveled. There was something sorry about him, he looks confused or lost or maybe scared maybe looking for something. He is at the edge of one’s judgment as far as being with it or not. His pants are big, maybe a few numbers up his size, he carries a new and clean small backpack and that gives him some credibility. I could not tell what he was about so I kept my distance. In some cases, you get a pretty quick signal that these types have mental health problems but with this dude signals simply weren’t there. There was something also familiar about him. But there was also something odd, something daring or naïve; a vibe of being a good person that is just trying to do the right thing so I kept listening.
– “I want to know who built the fountain outside in front of the building” he told me with an innocent demeanor, then he went on to say he was a farmer and was amazed with the fountain; he wanted to know who build it and there was a certain urgency in his request. With pride he said he wanted to create the same type of fountains, emphasizing that it “recycled the water”. At that point I decided he was just dumb, because I knew all fountains like that do recycle the water so what’s the point? How could anyone be mesmerized by a stupid cement fountain easily assembled with parts bought at Home Depot? I wasn’t rude to him but I was kind of blowing him off and not taking his ideas seriously. I said I had no idea who built the fountain and also said that it was just a simple fountain and I didn’t think there was anything special about it. He insisted in knowing who built it. I told him he would have to come back during business hours and ask the other people in the office. He looked at me with a blank sad look that said – why don’t you want to talk to me? I had nothing else to say.
We were both standing in front of each other and it was a kind of sad moment. I was the older guy, unmoved, stoic. On the other side the disappointment of the young guy again getting confirmation that older people cannot be trusted. But deep within my heart I could not deny myself I was ounce someone just like him. I was a dreamer excited about ideas and wanting to put them forward. I was in love with nature, naïve but innocent and also lost and afraid in a world increasingly difficult and challenging. I felt sorry for him but took comfort in the fact I could not have helped him and that was it. But the moment he walked out the door and I saw his silhouette vanishing into the outside like a child leaving home, I felt I screwed it up by not being able to give him support; at the same excusing myself by labeling him too lost for me to do anything. It was just a stupid simple fountain after all – who cares.
I went back to the nursing station and told my nurse coworker what have just happened, she was watching us from a distance. After listening to my story she looked a little puzzled and said she thought the fountain was quite nice. At that moment I told her I wasn’t even sure how the fountain looked like because I’ve always entered the building from the back. I just assumed the front looked like the one on the back. So I decided I needed to take a new look.
As I walk the few steps down from the front door and then to the side of the building I already get a quizzing feeling in my chest. I did in fact have an idea what the fountain looked like but I had it purposely erased it from my memory without noticing. As I approach the fountain I can already hear the waterfall sounds created by the flowing water cascading down. When I turn and look I just get a knot in my chest. To my guilty surprise I see a beautiful waterfall fountain gracefully constructed with beautiful round granite stones of all sizes. The fountain is lovely and so beautiful it immediately reminded of the water falls I had fallen in love with when I was young exploring nature in Brasil. I remembered the time I was still able to fall in love with waterfalls. A wormhole opened up and transported me to my favorite waterfall. I remembered the love I felt once for something as simple and natural as a that. I knew at that moment that young me and the young guy I just met were the same person. And now I wanted to him but he was gone.
I felt that sinking feeling as I realized I was wrong and had just let someone down. I had a chance to get to know him and ask how were things going and I blew it. I blew it because I didn’t even notice the waterfall in the first place, I blew it because I wasn’t paying any attention. The me from the past was just there in front of me, and I missed that precious moment. I could have told him where to go if he wanted to build waterfalls. I could have told him to keep believing in waterfalls and things would turn out OK; I could have told him to just be more patient; I could have told him that if he just relaxed and keep doing and he’ll get there, too wherever he wanted to go. I could have told him so many things but I didn’t.
Next morning, I needed to get it off my chest and told Marie what happened. As I tell the story and I remembered his sad silhouette leaving the building I could not help but to weep. I just sat there and just sobbed the fattest tears I hadn’t sobbed in years. I rarely cry but when I do I just cry for a while and make sure I cry for all the things I should have cried and I didn’t. I cried for our crazy world, I cried for all the innocent people murdered every day in this crazy planet; I cried for the lost children stricken by war; I cried for all others who are having a hard time in this life. I could do nothing but weep tears of joy and sadness at the same time. I wept for the passing life, for all the friends now gone. In the end the storm passed and I felt this strange kind of empty heart of joy. Just for a moment.
Image credit: Pixabay