Monday, June 8, 2009

A Different Pespective

My nephew, Iam, is about to turn fifteen years old. He suffers from a very mild form of autism which cause him to have some language comprehension and communication problems. Aside from that, however, he is functions almost normally and is personally appealing in his childlike innocence and manner.

But like many of the special children nowadays who share his particular disability, he is also possessed with that precious gift of being able to view the real world from a perspective that is uniquely his own. That gift and unique perspective can be a special blessing to the many of us in this jaded and cynical world who pride ourselves in being supposedly one hundred percent normal and, therefore, "superior" to those "burdened" with such mental handicaps.

Some time ago at the start of summer, I caught Iam surreptitiously putting what looked like a small stone into the pocket of his pants. Since he has the penchant for collecting what many "normal" people would consider the most strange and trivial of knickknacks, I have developed the habit of checking his pockets whenever I can.

"What is that?", I asked him. "Show me."

He opened his fingers and I saw that he was not keeping stone but a small fruit nut from one of the palm trees that grew in the backyard of the house in Lianga. "They are seeds," he said, talking to slowly and patiently me as if I needed the time understand him. "They need to be planted in the earth and watered regularly in order to grow."

A few minutes later, he was back in the backyard digging a small hole in the ground and planting his seed. I did not have the heart to tell him that he had just chosen the most unlikely spot for his new palm tree. It was right by a pile of old broken up concrete blocks and in the midst of extremely rocky earth that was bone dry as parched desert sand.

In the weeks that followed I forgot about the palm seed although Iam did not. He would optimistically bring a small can of water to water his seed once in a while but the patch of ground he had chosen remained dead, arid and stubbornly lifeless. Unrealistic optimism apparently had come to grips with jarring reality.

Then several days ago, just before he left for the city to start another year of school, I saw him again watering his non-existent palm tree. I shrugged, sighed and yet marveled at his persistent yet innocent naivete.

That was until Iam had already left Lianga and I went to the backyard to take a pee and passed by where he buried his palm seed. I suddenly saw, with unbelieving eyes, that flash of vivid green on the ground. There it was, a bit short and stumpy yet alive and well, the first tendrils of what was unmistakably and unquestionably a young palm tree.

Sometimes, apparent miracles can happen to those who believe in the seemingly impossible despite the the well meaning protestations and unsolicited advice of cynics and so called "realists". When such wondrous things happen, the balance of the universe is suddenly restored and die hard skeptics are forced to accept the possibility that in this improbable world, all things, even the miraculous, may indeed be possible for those who truly believe.

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