As I got ready to leave my VAMHC (Veteran Affairs Mental Health Care) doctor’s office, I noticed a grouping of rocks, some smooth by the tumbling of rapid waters, still others in rough form, gathered atop her mini-fridge. It seemed a strange place to have such a display.
I couldn’t help but ask, “So you collect rocks?”
She smiled, “In a round-about way?”
“Yeah, how so?” I came back.
“They’ve all been given to me by patients,” she answered.
“Really,” I responded with surprise.
“Yes,” she said, “It may seem strange, but a lot of veteran’s bring them to me – to all of us, as gifts when they come in for their appointment.”
As we exited her office, the doctor pointed to the open door across the hallway. There on the desk sat another collection of rocks that included plain-looking rocks to a piece of purple-colored amethyst.
“See,” she said, her smile widening, “And I haven’t taken the time to figure out why.”
We proceeded down the hallway to the appointment desk, talking about the rock’s and their possible meaning. I confessed to her that I also collect rocks, many without any real worldly value.
Much of my collection is kept in a plastic pencil box. And I can tell you pretty much where and when I picked a particular specimen up and what I thought was so special about it.
“Really?” she asked cheerfully, adding, “So why do you think you do it?”
“For a couple of reasons,” I answered, “First for the memory of it – which is to say, ‘I passed this way,’ and then to feel connected.”
By this time we were at the appointment desk. My doctor turned to me and asked quietly, “Connected to what exactly?”
A smile crossed my face as I answered: “To the world once again.”
“Wow,” she whispered loudly as we shook hands and said goodbye.