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A beautiful moment 55 years ago in Panama

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A beautiful moment 55 years ago in Panama

I am often amazed how certain experiences will stay with me.   I know that most of my life is consigned to my unconscious and stays there forever.  Then some experiences stay with me for some reason.   This is one of those seemingly very simple ordinary events that was imprinted into my soul. 

We moved into Gulick Heights in December 1958.  I liked it there and what I loved most was that it was surrounded by jungle.  Not wild jungle, but there were animals, snakes, trees to climb, and drainage ditches to get wet in from all the rain.  So it was at least for me, a boy’s paradise.   

Gulick Heights was just one long street, with about 40 buildings that had four apartments in them.  It ended up in a circle for the buses to use to turn around in.  Near there they had a small field, though at the time, when 10 years old, it seemed big.  It was empty of trees, and little undergrowth.  We called it for some reason “Red Sand Valley”.  We made a dugout, played war there, and also king of the hill, though when I was an adult and revisited it in 1976, I was underwhelmed.   Still many good memories about that small little play area.  My mother was not too keen about it since we often came home covered in red dust, or mud, from our playing.  So in order to make washing our clothes simple, she decided to dye everything purple.  Yep, people would walk up to me and ask if I was a Dohle, and I would ask why they would ask.  It was always about the purple clothes.  Our sheets were purple as well.  I can’t blame here, back then laundry was a chore, and well, with nine kids still at home, with five of them being typical boys, it was a stroke of genius. 

David and I, and a couple of friends were in the Jungle just walking around.  I was 15 I believe.  I wandered off from the group and was following a naturally formed drainage stream that was flowing gently downhill.  I was taken by the gentle sound of water flowing, the rocks that looked so clean under the water, and the fact that I was by myself so I could enjoy it.  

Then I came upon a part of the stream that emptied into a rather large rock formation that looked like a basin.   It was about three feet deep, and perhaps two feet wide.  Like most people I love beauty in all of its forms   Also like ‘some’ people I can get overwhelmed by beauty as well.  So I prefer beauty that does not overwhelm me and I can simply rest in it.  In the basin, beneath the perfectly clear water, there was a lone fish swimming around.   It was gently swimming around in total silence, in no hurry, not trying to get out, but seemed at rest.  I was drawn into this experience, not thinking about anything but just looking into the water.  I guess it was about one hour before I came back to myself and went to find the others.  I did not, they went home soon after I went my own way.

That night as I was lying in bed, the image would not leave me, and to this day it will come to the fore from time to time and I find it very calming and even healing.

I still wonder why my mind would pick out this very simple event to cling to.  Perhaps because of the simple beauty.  It bothers me that I can’t take in too much stimulation, it makes me tired, goofy and fills me with a desire to be by myself so I can reenergize. 

I don’t have to figure out why such an experience stays with me, it just does, and I enjoy thinking about it, and reliving this very simple event in my life.—Br.Md

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