By Peter Gamble
I looked out at the morning horizon and saw some much needed rain clouds approaching. I didn’t know if they would bring rain or snow to this elevation but I knew we needed that rain/snow.
The clouds rolled in and I began to try and apply what little I knew about the composition of these clouds. They were dust, moisture and air. What kind of dust? Dust from a strong wind blowing across the prairie? Or through the mountain forest? Or across a coal plant that dumps sulfur out? Maybe the dust was partly from the saw mills that cut up the trees? Or the paper mills that dumped chemicals out? Was that dust from the ocean, nice and salty and clean? Or dust from a nuclear plant across the ocean that sent fallout into the skies six thousand miles away? Was it dust from a single tractor harvesting corn? Or from an army of bankers driving to work, stuck in traffic? Maybe just one small dust speck was leftover from a bomb that fell sixty years ago, or last year? Maybe that dust was from some distant cosmic destination yet unseen? I wondered how unique could be each dust particle and thus, each rain/snow cloud. Maybe that rain/snow cloud as unique as it is, had existed before, a million years ago and been seen by some animal or some almost person in much the same way I was looking at it now.
What is happening inside that rain/snow cloud? Can it conceive of time the same way I do? Does it know when it comes into being, when it peaks and when it dies? Does it know how large I think it is? Inside that rain/snow cloud, all those dust particles, each struggling to be born into rain/snow. Somehow each one will succeed, or not. Ultimately I can observe a rain/snow downpour. Rain/Snow. R/S. Romeo Sierra as we say in the military.
Does that rain/snow cloud know how great I think it is? How much I love to watch it and to feel it’s affect on our world? How much all people throughout time have literally prayed for it to exist and replenish the water we need to live. Maybe it does. Maybe that cloud is trying to help each moisture particle to become the Romeo Sierra we pray for. Maybe it gives each raindrop/snowflake the unique gift we need to survive. Maybe it had this planned all along and each Romeo Sierra knows it has a mission. It must exist, no question about it.
The struggle continues to play out as the clouds draw near. I can see in the distance what looks like precipitation but I can’t tell if it will be rain or snow at my location by the time it gets here. I track it with a strange anticipation. Romeo Sierra, what will you be for me? Do you know you are coming to me? Are you coming at all or will you evaporate before you hit the ground and become one with the clouds you just were born from. Romeo Sierra I hope you come to me.
Inside that cloud is one I can imagine, one raindrop/snowflake; one Romeo Sierra. It is born! It begins to race down to us but it doesn’t think it’s racing at all. It thinks everything takes so long to happen; it asks “When will I grow up?” Oh please be patient my little Romeo Sierra, you will fall soon enough. Your time is so short and it will be so long before you get back into a cloud. Oh Romeo Sierra if I could only tell you of your amazing expedition. You will journey so far in such a great circle. From that happy simple cloud you just were born to the short fall through the sky where you can see the whole world before you. Then you will travel, not knowing how or why, to such painful and difficult times which will seem to poison you. That same fantastic ride will also bring such sense of accomplishment that we are all so proud of you. Though always you carry a refreshing life with you that all others seek to harness, capture, control, profit from, utilize and sometimes destroy but other times enthrone, cherish and idolize. You are truly the essence of enlightened mystery.
You will survive Romeo Sierra. You don’t think you are strong enough but the choice is not yours. You will survive to carry life to more people in your path. You are unique Romeo Sierra and you will ultimately go back to that cloud but not for a long time. You haven’t even hit the surface yet and I’m already dreaming of the greatness you will bring to all of us.
Then I wonder where is the mind of this little one. Does it have one? In such a small space, is it possible? Or is the mind of Romeo Sierra and my mind both next to each other, in the cloud above that cloud I watch? Maybe Romeo Sierra is smarter than me?
Why did I think my mind was in my brain? As if my mind was a shoe put into a shoebox? Yes we need our brains to connect our bodies and our minds. All science can really prove is that when some portion of our brain is damaged, it outwardly affects the parts of our mind that are testable. Damaged brains or not, our minds are more. There is no way, no test to see where our minds are. Are we able to imagine such coordinates? Maybe our minds are part of the cloud that set Romeo Sierra on a path to save the world from itself. We just can’t see it though because it’s not our place. Our place is here, with our bodies. Like Romeo Sierra we have a job to do. Even if that job is just to type and observe a cloud as it rolls in from the distant horizon.
Peter Gamble is a retired U.S. Navy Electronics Technician, paralyzed in the line of duty in 1989. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he is an active scuba diver and church and community volunteer.