Life of a Rooster

Memoirs of a psychiatrist, journalist and educator

A glimpse of eternity

on August 22, 2014

Most of what I remember from that year (1970-71) is trying to catch up with school work. Doing homework. Going to school. Testing. Testing. And Testing.

However, there is one brief shining moment in that year when I had a flash of intuition, or a moment of truth, or a glimpse of eternity, whatever one may call it.

It happened right in the middle of a physics test. I was sweating and trembling with anxiety, and overwrought with the fear of making a mistake in my answers. My heart drummed alarmingly. My chest started wrenching in pain. Then I stopped. I put my hand down for a second, and lifted my head.

tree, sunlight


Through the glass of the large window right next to me, the tree tops were waving softly in the breeze. It was spring, and birds were singing. The sun was bright but not overbearingly hot. A butterfly managed to flutter all the way up to our second floor window. Ah, this is a day when one should be outdoors enjoying nature and the joy of rebirth. And all of a sudden the life I was leading, the test I was taking, the classroom full of anxious students, the physics test, all this seemed suddenly so pallid, so fake, and so unimportant in the larger picture of the universe in motion.


In that one moment, my anxiety melted away, and I suddenly thought — or maybe angels put the thought in my head? — “This is not important. In ten or thirty years, no one will care to know how much I scored in that physics test back in 9th grade.” And this has come true, by the way. It has been 43 years now and no one ever has asked me how much I scored in that particular test. The truth is, I myself do not remember at all how much I scored, nor whether I passed or failed it.

Although it may seem like an unimportant short instant; although no one saw anything or noticed anything at the time; and although I myself did not realize the impact of that realization, that single moment marked the beginning of a new era in my life. Before then, I would get immersed in the anxiety of trying to swim against the current and catch up with language, and school work in all the schools and systems and countries I had been through. After that moment, I still did. But the difference was that I now knew it was NOT important to do so, and when needed, I was able to stop the anxiety and step back. And smell the flowers.

It must have been after that moment that one day, although there was a test the next day, I decided to go see a movie instead of studying for one last minute. I wasn’t able to convince Saadia, and had to go with my younger siblings. After all, the theater had put up banners proclaiming “Nailed in iron:  last day!” Meaning that this was for sure the last day they were going to air that particular movie. Well, for all that I believed them, the next day, they had another banner proclaiming, “Nailed in steel: last day!”



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