My brother is brain damaged and suffered schizophrenia for many years before he was found brutally beaten and left in a coma on Mission Street back in the early ’90’s. He is a little slow now and walks with a slight imbalance to his gait, but he has recovered most of his cognitive abilities and he’s functioning well enough. As a young man, my brother’s episodes of mania, paranoia, and delusional thinking seemed to me as a deep suffering. It appeared that he felt the world as pure sensation, not as an observer with his eyes or his ears alone, or even with his sense of touch, for that matter, but with an emotional intuition, almost as if he had a feeling about any situation without the removed, rational, objective logic that the rest of us seem to have. He had no veil of separation. When someone was angry near him, for example, he became unnecessarily agitated, even if the anger wasn’t directed at him personally or if it was perpetrated by a complete stranger towards somebody else. It was as though he was in a heightened state of awareness. He often used metaphorical language when describing his reaction to the world, saying things like he was “disemboweled,” or stating that he had been “murdered,” or that he had “died.” He didn’t offer these words as descriptive metaphors, but as though these things had actually happened to him. I concluded that he viewed the world with what I consider an extra sensory ability, he could feel reality like I could not.
This morning, we took a walk in Golden Gate park. We have been doing these walks for a few months now and, as the rain has let up, the walks have resumed. We talk about nothing at times, and at others we reminisce about our childhood or discuss the current condition of our sisters’ lives, and when the moment strikes us, we even concern ourselves with the state of national and international affairs.
And sometimes we enjoy our walk together in complete silence.
Today, however, we waxed philosophical. I asked him if there is a meaning to life and he rebuffed me as if I were a child, thinking childish things and asking childish questions. He plainly stated that life doesn’t have to have a meaning and that it is simply good to be alive. He then pointed to the landscape spread out before us with its stately monterey pines which gave the appearance of mere hovering amidst the low lying and extremely dense morning fog, there was a fresh and almost electric-green blanket of grass underfoot which went rolling about everywhere, and sitting naked and alone, a solitary but slightly budding deciduous tree heralding as loud as possible the soon coming days of spring. My brother, looking at me with his peripheral vision said, “Look around you, it just feels good to be alive.” The emphasis being on the feeling part, of course, and it is important to tell you that these words that he spoke were unadorned and without decoration, just matter of fact for him.
“But,” I said, “what about success in life...fame...leaving your mark on the world?” “They are their own rewards,” he shrugged. “Well, what about death then,” I asked, “do you think we continue on somewhere else?” Without hesitation, he pointed out that there is too much of each and every one of us in other people, that humanity carries within itself it’s own continuation, and that our own lives are lived again by others, right now and also after we die. "Our status as human beings,' he said, "IS our bid for eternity." "Everyone is a participant of the future." So with that, I felt a little bit better. Thanks for reading.
Submitted by Anonymous
We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories