I will start by saying that although I have met some wonderful people in my life, even some well known people (famous people), I will admit that I have NEVER met Stephen Hawking; although I dearly wish I had.
On my list of five people I most want to meet, he is on THAT list.
But the night I spoke to him is simply my imagined conversation with him, and it went like this…
Although everyone wants to talk to Professor Hawking about the universe, the cosmos, the theory of everything, I have only ONE question to ask him. “How has he lasted this long inside his body?”
I wont even pretend that his real answer would be useful or helpful to me or make my life any more bearable, but I do want to know what he says.
The other night I awoke in pain and wanting so desperately to ‘escape’ this body, I thought that Stephen would know what this feels like. Stephen would know even better than me what this feels like, I imagine. Not that its a competition. So thats when I think of talking to him.
So I lay there this night and I ‘talked’ to him.
I asked him my question and I waited patiently while he answered me…
I imagined him looking at me through those thick glasses, gazing deeply at my genuine earnest expression on my face, thinking very carefully and then answering me in his very wise and thoughtful way.
I imagined he would tell me how important his mind is to him, and how it is all that he has been left with and so he treasures it and guards it very preciously.
I imagine he has created another reality in his mind and he finds refuge and terrible pain in those recesses. I imagine him telling me to be very careful where I let my mind and thoughts take me, as they can be very hard to rescue and retrieve once we let them go to a ‘bad’ place. I imagine him telling me he has trained his mind to take him all the places his body cant take him. I imagine him saying he trains his mind to stop difficult and painful thoughts and to calm his inner storms. That’s the only way I can understand how life is possible for him. His brilliant mind must also be brilliantly trained and distracted from his earthly reality in order to go to places where none of us can go, and will ever go.
Sometimes when you are physically limited we can often live in our heads a lot. It can be our strength and our weakness. I haven’t mastered all my demons and thoughts. Sometimes my pain and frustration can take my mind and feelings to dark places that are hard to come back from. It can be an angry place filled with ‘why me’ and ‘futility’. Other times I can be closer to remarkable breakthroughs and inspiration than I have ever known previously. It can bring me peace and calm, but it can also leave me filled with terror and isolation.
Sometimes I feel I have my mind well trained and other days I feel like I am a complete amateur. Perhaps I am both.
And that’s what I talk to Stephen about, and that’s what we keep talking about, time and time again.
Thank you Professor Hawking. Until we speak again…