I Am Only Human

Author: MarieNickol | Date of issue: 2004

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I am a dreamer. I leaned back on the sofa and sighed uttering the words that were choking my mind ‘I’m a dreamer’. I have secretly hoped for several years to find the true formula, but all in vain. Sample after sample, strain after strain, test after test – all good for nothing. How painful it is to know that you have lived too long for only one dream. It’s true – I have started from somewhere and now I have ended up in the middle of nowhere.

It all started when I walked out of the house one day with only the clothes on my back and empty pockets. That was a year ago when I had just been granted my medical degree and wondering around how I was going to live my life from that moment on. I had decided to leave my parent’s house and start a new life. I rented a small apartment in the center of the city and the rent was so cheap that I felt it was too good enough for me. Soon I found my present job in the Medical Center Lab and what I received as a matter of payment was again enough money to start a new way of life. My work was connected both with patients and laboratory tests and in a way I liked it. Somehow it gave me a spiritual remedy against the stress. I spent more than eight hours a day in the Lab, lost in medical research.

To relate my life story, or whatever success I had is not my intention. Such things are evasive and ephemeral. What I really want to reveal is what is sleeping hidden deep inside me. I have found that keeping this secret side of oneself is a kind of slavery, a whip-hand over one’s own being. I am trying to conceal the two sides of myself – the beast and the angel. My angle-like appearance, my good-hearted nature is always on the surface, but the beast is always sleeping his drunken sleep inside me. I still remember what prompted me years ago to study medicine.

Certainly it is wonderful that the advance of medical science today is considerable. Yet, isn’t it remarkable to hear, how two doctors could have two different opinions on a case and no doubt in either one.

Going to the hospital when I was not yet a doctor myself and even had no idea of becoming one, I noticed a man sitting on the seat opposite who appeared to be in a high state of nervous excitement. The first doctor kept on insisting:

“I know baldness when I see it. Now this gentleman is not bald. He just has a high forehead.”

Looking at him very carefully, I remember, the other one confirming:

“This is not a case of high forehead, in my twenty years of practice, and I know a high forehead when I see one. This is a clear case of baldness.”

The ill-fated, wretched patient, mortally afraid of what was taking place, had complained of spastic pain in the throat. Whether bald or not his forehead was covered with perspiration and he looked so pale as if he was going to faint. Whatever had been wrong with him, I would not forget how the doctors kept insisting on cutting off parts and pieces and extracts, taking samples and specimens of him and sending them without explanation to be analyzed in the analytical laboratory. Now that was what had filled the patient up with an agony of fear. One of the doctors observed with such an unruffled calm:

“I want you to keep very quiet. In the medical world we a have a term for your very common fear. We call it the fear of insanity.”

The patient was traumatized by the words and cried:

“What makes you think I am crazy?”

Bemused I walked away from the scene which made my blood stir at the very thought of it, forgetting whatever reason I had for consulting a doctor.
And yet, isn’t it funny? On hearing these two experts falling into an ardent rivalry I was determined to follow their steps in the Medical Academy and become a doctor myself. It was the beast that talked inside me. I was furious at their foul play with an innocent man. I am not a vindictive person by nature, but I felt I wanted revenge – revenge for all those who suffered the pain of such villainous folly. The fact is that my beast-like instinct plunged me into the medical world and I have devoted my entire life to finding the key to happiness, the formula to a single medicine giving immortality, alleviating pain and suffering. My humane instinct told me this is what people crave for.

I set myself to work and started researching, scribbling formula after formula. I also found myself dreaming and in a way felt peacefully happy. I woke with the sun; the landscape through my window was smiling and calling me to meet nature. In fact, I was exaggerating. There were only the signs of modern civilization near my place and a small park; that was all the nature I knew. And yet, it was the world that surrounded me. Soaring skyscrapers of glass and colored concrete, all light, wrapped up in clouds of neon sparkles alongside abominable slums derelict, with open-sewers invaded by rats, misery and poverty.

I kept on working and the harder my work, the harder the rival. The beast in me woke up stubborn, belligerent, fighting my ego, feverish with excitement from the competition. I couldn’t overlook colleagues peeping into my work, trying to figure this and that from my expectant experiments, some even quite challenging to take up whatever I was doing into their own hands and in offhand manner brag striving for their own promotion. All that perturbed me at times and I felt some kind of an inspirational go to fight summoning up all my courage and strength in withstanding them, stating my own rights, defending my own territory. Yet, it was a ruthless task as some were well positioned in the hierarchy. I admit I worked with vigor. Sometimes I had to fight the duel with my own self, being on the verge of discovering the miracle for humanity.

One day during a coffee break as I was having my beverage the door of my lab opened. The blinds on the windows were pulled down and only a chink of sunshine making its way through them lightened and warmed the cheeks of an unfamiliar man. The sunshine shone in the gold of his hair and in his soft eyes. On introducing himself, he said he wanted to talk some things over with me. In a way baffled on hearing him talk, and before I could mutter some kind of reply a colleague of mine knocked on the door and entered. The man I was trying to say something to quickly left and disappeared at the end of the corridor. I wondered, I really wondered what it was all about but soon forgot about the matter. On the following month, on the same date and at the same hour that very man came again. This time he said in a low demanding voice:

“Rumors say you’re trying to discover the formula to immortality, or am I wrong?”

“I may say that some people are more or less exaggerating. What I’m really working on is, as I have named it, ‘the key to happiness’.” - I replied.

“Ah, I understand. It is somewhat different. Whatever it is, I think I can help.”

I looked at him confused unaware of what he had in mind. And yet, I allowed him to lead me astray, accepting his invitation for dinner that evening and finding myself revealing all my concealed thoughts, talking for hours about my endless experiments. He stood there listening, imperturbable, inquiring; sometimes a peculiar look came onto his face which in a way marked his enthusiasm when hearing my elaborate explanations.

“You’re a very daring lady,” he said, “my love and respect to you. Nevertheless, I think you’ve done your part of the bargain, not so well maybe, but still have had your share.”

“I don’t…” I tried to say, but my voice failed and the words got lost.

“I know,” he interrupted me, “I understand how you feel about your work. You’ve devoted your life to something ‘real’... You’ve been so desperately trying to find out something which in fact is nothing new, and yet you’ve forgotten one thing – forgot to live your life.”

“Forgot to live my life?” I snapped at him. “How could you say that?... I’m living, I’m breathing for my only true remedy…Just imagine how people will feel when they find themselves relieved from all that weighs heavy on their hearts…Forgot to live!”

“Now, don’t get so upset,” his voice went on soothingly, “All I want to say is that you are only human. People don’t see the humanist of doctors; they’re inclined to see the god in them. I think that’s what you’re trying to prove. You want to be the god. You forget that you have your life to live. This is what rightfully belongs to you, to me, to each and every one of us. We won’t be immortal and there’s no need to be. If we were, we wouldn’t know what happiness is.”

His words were like a slap in my face, they infuriated me. I left him without even bothering to reply. I felt the rage piling up inside me. Unknowingly, I went into my lab, ransacked all my papers, tore them into pieces, shoved out whatever I saw in my way. I fell into the situation of crashing flasks, smashing test tubes, reasoning nothing but the miserable creature I was. Not until my fury had descended on every part and piece there was in the lab did I see him standing there with a smile on his face that made you feel uneasy and uncertain of what to do or say.

“All right,” I said, “That’s the end.”

“No,” was his reply, “That’s not the end. You are just beginning to live.”

“How?” I inquired, feeling too wasted to go on with the conversation.

“You are wonderful, magical woman too, because this was the initial divine intention,” he went on giving me no chance to utter a word, “We are all designed to be little wonders: we carry the optimism, the sympathy, sense of humor and benevolence which, even scarce today, appear on the surface of our souls and help us go forward and pursue our horizons. Yes, we are imperfect, but so is the world. Why change this?”

“I’m a dreamer,” I sighed, “we haven’t yet learned how to be a step closer to perfection. Perhaps you’re right, it’s unnecessary to change it.”

“Maybe without this subtle tricky controversy and play with Nature the world would be too plain, uninspiring, and grey for all of us humans,” he persisted, “and people would be pitiful, living ...”

“Or wasting their lives,” I interposed.

“Yes, wasting their lives without the strife everyday with the ‘foul for the fair’.”

All Rights Reserved © Marie Nickol 2004