Friday, 10 pm, there is a sadness in the air. The persistent rain on my window and the howling wind seem to be arguing, or saying goodbye to each other in an overly melodramatic way. I could hear the restless dogs barking in the distance. Across the street, the ambulance, and the paramedics took the body of my neighbor -Gary- to the hospital’s morgue.


He, Gary; my neighbor… was a lonely man. His children used to send him gifts that he had no use for. I often saw him put them in the garbage. He smiled and waved his hand as our eyes would meet Monday through Friday. Our paths crossed when I returned from my daily walk. I will miss Gary, we never got together or became good friends, we limited ourselves to smiles, and waving from the distance. We never even shook hands; I feel sadness as I imagine his loneliness in that big empty house of his. I guess I missed another opportunity to make a friend and share quality time, curiosity, and compassion with another lonely human being.

Oh, Gary; I miss you! I am sorry I played safe and didn’t get to know you better. I’m sorry, more for me; than for you. I hate to think, that once your body died… your thoughts, dreams, and personal preferences also died with you. The question is: Am I thinking about my mortality? Do I fear loneliness? Or…  Am I lonely now? No, I am not feeling lonely. I am a strange dude; I have never felt lonely, and I am ok with my own company. Dear Gary, I feel sadness when I imagine you all alone. I remember watching you from a distance. Stealing a glance, while you were watching TV, or wading in your small swimming pool. Later on, the police found you sleeping in the car at different parking lots. Little did we know you had forgotten how to return home.

 Did I miss the chance to hear your stories and glimpse your passions, and your spark of life? Of course, I did. 

Oh, Gary, may you rest in peace, and may your spirit soar through the universe as you go back home, to the source of life. When our paths cross again; let us push beyond our fears. Let us be reckless, make mistakes, and dare talk to strangers.  I still remember the last morning I saw you; you seemed to be in a hurry to go back into your house. It was our last time together on this planet, and our eyes didn’t even meet. I know you saw me, and I saw you, but you had already turned your body toward your main door… and you raised your hand above your head and waved goodbye. I thought, I will catch him tomorrow, but there are no more tomorrows for this friendship that died awaiting completion. 


This morning, I dreamt that I got up, and went for a walk:  across the street, the slanted Palm tree in Gary’s front yard winked at me and said “I know you miss him, I miss him too, he was a loyal companion. That shy, not so friendly Gary that you remembered; was a good man. For the last five years, he came and talked to me for five minutes every morning. He laid his shaky hands on my dried trunk. He was either blessing me or asking me for a blessing. He was too shy, or insecure to make eye contact, or ask for what he wanted”

Well, Palm Tree; you got more from Gary; than anyone… of the eight hundred residents in this community. It is sad, don’t you think? I asked.

“No, IT is not sad, it is how life is, that is how it goes all the time.  Now, YOU are feeling sad as you think of a missed opportunity.” said the palm tree. “That is how life is, I have seen hundreds of people go by, they all; come and go. You came, and one day… you will be gone, just like Gary is gone. I have been watching you for the last eight years. Are you going to be like Gary and the others? Or, do you intend to take steps to promote mental health and well-being as you often think about?”

I looked up! Surprised that a Palm-tree knew about my secret dreams of promoting mental health by sharing what I have learned. 

“Yes, I know! We all know. I mean all vegetation, even the critters know about your plans. You talk out loud as you walk. You talk about it every single day, that is a lot of talking, and very little action; if you ask me. We hope you do something more than dreaming about it, and implement all that planning before it is time for your body to die. We hope you don’t die with that dream inside of you.  Humans spend lots of time and energy thinking. Think less, and do more, and for Gary’s sake, don’t believe everything you think. If you do, you will be like him, gone and forgotten.”

 I’m a coward! I hate failure, I hate discomfort. I’m not sure this business of promoting mental health and well-being will be a good thing for someone like me. It started as a good idea, but it is a big responsibility.

“Well, talking about it is not going to make it happen. Dreaming about it; is not the same as doing it. Besides, whatever you are thinking at this very moment is going to keep changing. I don’t know what will happen after you die, and neither do you. But I know what has been happening for the last one hundred years in this community.” Said the palm tree. Then, it continued “They all come with a dream inside of them. Some want to fall in love again, others want a little sex. Others want to write a book, learn to play a musical instrument or get better at singing. Most of them plan to start one day, and that one day never comes.”

Well, that is life! I don’t know how to respond to that!

“The wind and I see what happens in this land.” Said the palm tree. “I am telling you what happens. As they come and go: someone dies, and their dreams and plans die inside of them. Then, someone new will buy the house. And… do you know what happens then? Within three months, everything goes back to normal, and nobody remembers… neither the previous owner nor life as it was while he was here.”

 “Well, I don’t know if what I have to offer will be well received, or rejected,” I said. 

The palm tree appeared to be laughing at me! The wind shook the palm tree’s fronds. Then in a cold voice, the wind said “Of course you don’t know, you are not meant to know. Nobody knows what is going to happen the next minute. Never mind knowing what is going to happen in a human’s mind. Humans just pretend to know, they just try to predict the weather, the market, or anything else that is not up to them to control, and then… many of them die with their dreams inside of them.” 

There was a long silence. Not even the wind was felt for a moment, and then with a mild movement… the wind left. It left like Gary did, it left without looking in my direction, without even saying goodbye.

When I woke up, I made sure to walk across the street to the palm tree to lay my hands on its dried trunk, and verbally ask for its blessings. When I returned home before preparing my coffee, I decided to share my dream and notes with those that I care for… so here it is.

What would you love to make your life about before the body dies? 

Are you aware that expressing your needs, asking for what you want, and sharing your gifts and talents adds spice to your days, and rekindles the spark of life? 


Since you already know that your body is going to die; what would you love to create before that happens?

Where are you focusing your attention; and what are you neglecting, because of that?

Are you aware that feelings; any feeling come from the thoughts crossing your mind in that moment?


This frustration… is coming from my thoughts at the moment; about my son refusing to wipe his shoes before coming into the living room.

This sadness… is coming from thoughts in the moment; about childhood memories.

This sexual arousal… is coming from thoughts in the moment; about my mate coming to spend the night.

This sexual anxiety… is coming from thoughts in the moment; about comparing myself to others.

This envy… is coming from thoughts in the moment; about financial compensation at work.

This fear… is coming from thoughts in the moment; about not being well-prepared to handle the presentation. 

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