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markdohle

A pleasant memory of my childhood in Panama

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markdohle

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A pleasant memory of my childhood in Panama

I find that when I am out in the woods, I can feel overwhelmed by all of the life surrounding me.  I get overloaded and can’t take it in.  I have always been that way.  The same goes when I am in a large place with lots of people.  If I do not shut down in some way, I get scattered, and tired, very quickly.  I can’t say I understand why this is so.  Music (apart from dancing) is the same, as well as food.  Though I do like to eat, a lot.  Yet I really can’t take much in before I get overwhelmed. 

I have some plants in my room, simple ones, and I am at times overwhelmed by their simple, green beauty.  One or two at a time is good, but a room full of plants and I again, can’t seem to take it all in. 

Perhaps that is one reason that I do not like sightseeing, but would rather stay in one place, and get to know a certain area over a period of time.  As I age, this only gets worse.  If I go into town, driving, when I get back, you would think I have been working 12 hours non-stop. 

When in Panama, things were not like that.  I still liked being myself most of the time, but for some reason, when In Panama, when in the Jungle, or at the beach (Pina beach mostly), I never felt overwhelmed or tired when I returned home.  I do not think it was because of my youth.  I think the reason was that I felt totally rooted, at home, wherever I was.  I guess after I left, perhaps, even after 47 years here in the Monastery, I have never felt so at home.  Granted I love it here, and when I go for walks, there are times when I don’t have to shut out all of the beauty around me, but it is not the Panama of my youth. 

One of my greatest pleasures was going swimming at Gatun Lake.  I loved diving deep and slowly floating up to the surface.   I loved it underwater more than above water.  The same goes for being in the Jungle, the amount of vegetation around me never tired me out but only gave me a feeling of peace, comfort, and yes, home.  Not quite sure why Panama had such an influence on me.  I am not really an outside kind of guy.  Though I did love camping, I would prefer reading or staying at home, to doing anything like that.  One of the good things about being in the Canal Zone was that I was constantly being lured outside to go into the jungle and just be there.  I loved all of it.  The plants, the animals, and even the insects, though they could be pesky critters.  Here I am thinking of hair wasps (?)….boy they could really make me run for the water. 

One memory, which seems very simple, and even uninspiring, stays with me.  I was with my brother David in the jungle.  We were walking beside a small stream one Saturday morning, and we came upon a section of the stream that flowed into a hole that was perhaps two feet deep, and perhaps three feet wide.  I stopped and looked into the hole and saw a single fish swimming around in it.  For me, it was something beautiful as well as peaceful too look at.  I spent about thirty minutes watching the fish, and thought what a perfect place it to be.  Just looking at this natural piece of living art brought me a sense of deep rest and contentment, and this simple experience, image, is still with me even though more than 50 years have passed. 

Simple things, moments that are not so obvious, can be the ones that stay with me.  I have lots of memories about Panama, but this is one of my favorites, though most people will scratch their heads, thinking…..uninspiring. 

In the Navy, Midday Island was like Panama.  The ocean, lots of plants, and really a lot of quiet as well.  I think one of the reasons I loved it so was because it did remind me of Panama, which is a no-brainer. 

I really wish that my senses did not get so overwhelmed so easily since it causes me fatigue problems, but as I age, it seems to only get worse.  Not that it is a real problem, I get all the time I need to regroup, etc. 

I am so thankful that I was able to live in Panama, for it simple, low key memories that have such meaning for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the way I am, but wonder what would have happened if I was built in another way?   So many questions, no time to figure it out.

Now, when dancing, it seemed not to bother me.  Perhaps because the rhythm would get into my blood and I felt no separation, my blood would boil, and I would simply let it carry me.  If I sat and just listened, I would tire out, but get me on the dance floor and I would fly all night.  I could just be.

I have no desire to go back to Panama, or for that matter Midway Island.  Memories are time locked, and I believe important to think about once in a while.  I can’t go back, and I love it here in Georgia, and the Monastery.  It is the life I believe I was made for, and am thankful for being here. 

I guess If had to leave, or the community moved, I would look upon this place the same way I look at fond memories from my far past.  Knowing that allows me to truly love and appreciate what I have.—Br.MD

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