Stay on the Path – Part 2

Several days went by before I encountered Tony again. I tried several times to apologize, but he simply kept quiet each time and walked away. Months went by until I stopped trying. Rather, I diverted my energy into transforming this rundown poorly performing garage to mirror the other garage by the water. Tony noticed the changes and slowly began to engage with me again. I was careful this time to pay attention and not let my personal interests distract from my purpose. 

As time marched on, Tony became less apprehensive to engage me, but he still remained guarded. I also observed he had a familiar spot in the yard where he sat alone and just stared at the water. For my entire employment, I never saw anyone approach him at that spot. I wanted to know the secret behind the stare, so I silently slipped onto the bench next to Tony and stared at the water, and sat silently. Tony barely acknowledge and continued to stare as though transfixed by some mystical power. I sat silently just looking straight ahead. 

It seemed like an eternity had passed before Tony reached into his pocket, removed an old, wrinkled two by three-inch photo, and without making eye contact, he handed me the photo. Tony kept staring straight ahead, but I noticed tears streaming down his cheeks. I dared not utter a single word. I chose to let the moment decide what happened next.  

After some time had elapsed, without altering his gaze, he said: ” I truly miss them.” I remained silent to allow the conversation to flow from Tony. I studied the photo more carefully now and it was an image of two boys in tattered shorts and open shirts, barefoot carrying baskets on their heads in what looked like some kind of mining operations. ”It’s been 20 years since I last saw them.” Tony said. I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt the moment, so I just waited and listened. 

Twenty years ago back in my country, I made some terrible mistakes that cost me, my family, he said. I was involved and indebted to some very bad people and to repay my debt they took my two sons to work the mines. Tony went on and shared how he finally escaped from his country with the rest of his family and settled in the United States. He shared how he regretted every day not having the courage to fight for his boys. This story, he told me, he has never shared with anyone else, other than his wife, until this moment. 

I don’t know how this dream ends, because like most dreams they remain unfinished. But I do believe, in this dream, I was used as an instrument to help Tony. My regret is, I did not understand the importance of being available when I am placed on someone else’s path. The good news, however, is that I was able to see the two contrasting sides of Tony. Finally, by being patient and genuinely engaged, I was able to share in Tony’s story and developed a deep empathy for his pain and suffering. 

Dreams I am told have a way of waking us up before the full purposes are revealed. Joseph did not sleep through the end of his dream and had no idea of the interpretation. Likewise, I did not sleep through the end of my dream and have no idea how it would have turned out. But I have learned from the dream that when I am placed on someone else’s path, I am there for a reason.

Stay on the path. Be present.

Stan Brooks, PhD

By Stan Brooks, PhD

Dr. S. MacNivan Brooks is an Intergroup Leadership Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author.

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