I think that during our teenage years, we’re all solipsistic in a way and this is what drives the individual towards a certain ideal of beauty and grace and greatness. He assumes that he is the most important piece in the puzzle and that the world without him would cease to exist.
So, in a way, somewhere along the line I had changed. The old and wise grandfather was replaced by a weary and frightened individual who told the same stories over and over again. I reckoned it was the disease talking, the constant fear of death, ever more poignant as the days progressed, and it did not make me happy to go see him. As a matter of fact, in subsequent years, I had been visiting him less and less, mostly because he bored me, but also because he frightened me a little.
I find it sad but true that it’s not idealism that is slowly killing this world, but realism. We live our lives and somewhere along the line, we understand what this world is all about. There is no greatness to be found at the bottom of a grave and so we grow a sense of self-preservation and start acting like the animals we are. It is as simple as that.
I regret the fact that I didn’t have the right mind and maturity to give my old physics professor an answer when I had the chance. There is a cyclic nature in the universe. The planets revolve around the sun, the entire solar system revolves around a black hole in the middle of the galaxy, and life comes back to life in the spring after having died in the autumn. In the same manner, we almost always return to our first impressions and ideas of the world around us.
The hard truth about humans is that we never really grow up. We accumulate great knowledge or wisdom, we attain skills and we create. We leave something behind, whether it’s a huge collection of novels, fabulous wealth or two or three kids. But we rarely live. We rarely multiply what we’re given, we rarely add something new to the world itself. We travel on roads that we rarely recognize, we try to understand and we want to find out more and more about what it means to be human.
And in the end, we always, always, return to the starting point, to where it all began. In my case, my grandfather, sick and dying in a hospital, seeing him as the great man he truly was, as the man that had taught me to listen and to learn, that taught me so many things about the simpler, obvious yet wonderful things in life. And there, in that hospital ward, with air redolent of gangrene and medication, he taught me one more thing.
In that fateful day I learned how to cry.
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