I often wonder what is happening inside the head of the person sitting across from me at work. What synapses are firing, what chemicals are coursing through dendrites, sparking changes along the route. I remember learning about the process vaguely, in the old familiar yet forgotten way that applies to theorems in math class in grade 10, or poetry in english.
It feels like something I should remember, that should have stayed in my memory vault.
But it’s gone, leaving only a picture in my mind of the naked head of a poppy, shaking out seeds over the ground in the fall. We used to pretend that it was money, those seeds, and were fascinated by how many one single red poppy could have. Shaking them out quickly before grandma noticed and told us to stop.
I go down the well travelled neural pathway into the function of memory. I wonder why this person, so close to me, so much the same in basic cellular structure, can have such a different thought process.
Is it the colour of their skin? The chipped fingernails on their hands? Or is it something deeper and less understood? Do they feel this way because of that time when they were three, when they skinned their knee and were told to suck it up?
Or was it when they were ten, and told to shut up, enough with the questions already?
Or when they were seventeen, and felt in love for the first time, and the world was an amazing place full of potential?
Or at eighteen, when they had their heart broken, sobbing in the bathroom with their friends, inconsolable?
We are all packages of memories, some pleasant and others we try to cram back down into the oubliette for as long as possible, hoping they can’t crawl back up to torment us.
How can we put ourselves in the steps of another, when the whole of self is millions of steps?
I continue to listen, offer suggestions, and try to help, all the while realizing that I have no idea what they are experiencing, wondering if anything I do makes a difference in the journey they are on.
Remaining hopeful the poppy seeds I spread will bloom in the spring, when it is time.