In Hindu mythology the Paramahamsa is a swan with the ability to drink the essential part of milk while rejecting its watery part. It is considered a symbol of a spiritually illumined soul who has experienced the Divine Essence of everything by rejecting the worldly lure of the senses.


His hand shoots up. Waves. Stops. His head cocks to the side puppy-like, tentative. You wave. He smiles and waves again. You smile back.

Bob, he says.

Then spells it in his high pitched sing-song voice that belies his 6 foot man-boy frame.


Bob! Excitedly he waves again.

Your name’s not Bob but what does it matter? It’s his name for you. For everyone.

His smile broadens.

Steam hisses from the pipe sticking out of the tiled wall.

Fire, he says. The word somewhere between a question and a statement.

Fire? Does he mean the heat spewing into the steam room or is it just the word playing in the front of his damaged brain at that moment?

Fa Fa Fa Fa…His sing-songy voice sings to the tune of Frère Jacques.

You join in and as you sing—elbows tight to his sides—his arms shoot up, his hands fluttering at his shoulders like the wings of some flightless bird who has not yet learned (or maybe just not accepted) it cannot fly. He Fa Fa’s along, his body wildly jerking with excitement.

Will he ever connect the dots from past to present to future?

Will I find a job? Be a success? Fall in love? Be loved? Live long? Die alone? Will these questions ever darken his brow?

Will he ever question his existence: Why he’s alive. What his purpose may be.

Someone else comes into the steam room and again the naming ritual begins.

Bob.   B—O—B   BOB!

Someday, many years from now, upon reaching his end of days, death, like everything else, will come without fear.

He’ll have seen death—his mother and his father will have long since died—but their memory, a shadow, surfacing only when his minder reminds him of them.

Will his head cock to one side in wonder as he passes gently into that good night?

There is no past in his world, no future—there is only the present and he, godlike, will dwell there drinking in the fullness of it.

He looks at you and smiles, then, as if seeing you for the first time he begins:

Bob.   B—O—B   BOB!


We’re all Bob in God’s eye.

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