Time has a funny way of managing and organizing the very fibers of our lives. Be it that we are aware or taken by suprise this is both the gift and curse of time. In this case I was taken unawares as only this occassion could.
Today while I was a the local ASO, the Nutritionist asked me how I was doing. As I was not in the mood to sugar coat anything I relayed to her the events of the last month, and a few decisions I had come to. Let me just say that she was less than happy on some accounts and on others well… Who knows? I left after a while and headed home.
After arriving back at my loft, small-but it works, I encountered a young man sitting on my porch with his girlfriend. They are friends of my neighbor downstairs. He said, "Sir, do you havea ciggarette I could get?"
To which I replied: " Don't call me Sir, I used to work for a living"
I gave him the ciggarette and then he proceeded to tell me the neighbor (his Friend) had told him I served in the military and he had a few questions. He had more than a few. So being in the "tired of sugar coating everything tell it how it is" mood. I told him in no uncertain terms what he was facing should he choose to enlist in theservice.
The young man said that he wants to go into infantry or become a medic in the Army. O.k. So how did I respond? I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye. He stared straight back at me as only the niave and eager youth of any generationdo. Wanting to know the answers but never prepared for what life is about to hand them.
Most of us call it being naive, others call it hope. I think I'll call it what it is… Reality waiting to hit the brakes.
I told him the bare facts of the matter, presented the reality of the path he was setting out on. Granted I told him the perspective of a Doc from the Navy and Marine Corps side of the coin. Having trod the path he was looking at, I felt no need to sugar coat how things would be. Unlike his recruiter obviously.
Duringour discussion he remained determined and I did tell him that I would answer any question he had within reasonon a need to know as per his situation basis. He took it well. His girlfriend, not so much. As the conversation continued I was struck with an emotion I had never in all of my life felt before. Bitter sweet tears of realization.
Why do I mention this. Well for one thing It made me think. In a space apart from the time I now live in- I was once that young man looking to go out and save the world. As Irony would have it- A grumpy disabled vet had an identical conversation with me all those years ago when I was looking to go and save the world as was. That man, was my Father, of righteous memory.
Looking back I realize a few things. I didn't save the world. I only just scratched the surface and perhaps If I am lucky I may have made a difference in the various lives of people I came accross during my time in the service. They may or may not remember me in the years to come, however, history and people do not remember a sculpture you build today, the lecture you gave, the classes you taught, or even the places you dreamed of.
No, history is not so kind to you as people can be but are often not. People do however remember how you made them feel, the tears they shed, and the hope you imparted if compelled to. People will remember your spirit, your joy, your sorrows, and most importantly your dreams and ideas.
You see each of us is a puzzle piece floating in the midst of a sea of pieces.We may not find the puzzle we wanted to solve, but rather the portion of the puzzle that we were destined to complete. We have in us each a portion of countless other's puzzles to which another human being holds the key.
Just as that old cranky vet held a piece of my puzzle; Today I found that I indeed hold a piece of another individual's puzzle that only time itself and the Creator of the Universehad the power to reveal.
So in the end, regardless of how long the pathway before me stretches after I am gone from this world, a portion of my puzzle has passed into the hands of another individual who will in turn pass it on at some point in the distant future.
You see, when we decide we have come to the center of our own path and the keystone of our puzzle, we never know it. None of us see the day arrive, and regardless of whatever has happened– The day you pass the torch on to the next generation is the most humble day you will ever know. And it will break your heart and give you tears that are bittersweet and well earned.