There are things which happen in our lives which, in hindsight, are beyond explanation.
When I was four, I spent several weeks in hospital. I don’t recall much about my stay on the children’s ward. Boys, who had obviously recovered from their surgery, played quietly on the floor, underneath a large central table. Even in my last few days there, I had little interest in joining them.
In the bed to the left of mine, there was an old man. His eyes sparkled the deepest blue, his full head of grey hair framed a genuine, friendly face. I remember spending hours talking to him, but little detail of our conversations. For the most part, it felt like he was sharing the secrets of the Universe. At four, perhaps just having an adult share their time feels like that.
When my parents came to collect me, I was inconsolable. Not, as they thought, because I was leaving a group of new friends behind, but because the old man was not there to say my goodbyes to him. I was both confused and concerned; as he had never left his bed the entire time that I had been there; but didn’t have the words to express either.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to question this memory. In hindsight, there is very little chance that an old man would somehow be resident in a children’s ward. What purpose his presence there, in my reality, I can’t even imagine; nor guess at what of his teachings remain deeply buried.