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The Tinkered Mind
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March 28th, 2021
Through the music, with his eyes closed, Lucilius could see the movement of fingers, the fall and press of keys, the jump and slide of hands. The notes fluttered into the silence, each with their individual, practiced strength, and Lucilius enjoyed as he judged. The melody slowed, perfectly and wound down to it’s last notes, the sweet sound lingering in the air, blurring that invisible border between memory and sensation.
Lucilius opened his eyes to the little boy looking at him in hopeful expectation. Lucilius slowly nodded, the fresh mellifluous memory washing over his mind.
And when he finally failed to say anything further, the boy prodded.
Lucilius met his eyes and paused before saying just, “Perfect.
The boy’s face lit up, as he was instantly primed to explode with happiness, his body becoming tense with the hope that he might jump up and cheer.
Lucilius just casually nodded.
“What are we going to do?” The boy asked.
“What do you mean?” Lucilius asked.
“Are we going to celebrate?”
Lucilius leaned back and looked off for a moment, breathing in deep as though the question actually did require a thoughtfully considered answer, as though there was something to figure out, to weight and wonder. His eyes darted back to the boy, hinting, just hinting at the possibility that he might now join the boy in a proper congratulatory celebration.
“No,” Lucilius said.
The boy’s face remained primed with it’s joy, but now tinted with a veneer of confusion. Surely, Lucilius was making a joke.
But he was not. Lucilius squinted a little and nodded his head slowly from side to side as though trying to suss out a measurement.
“Maybe…” he said slowly, “.. maybe after you’ve mastered your third song, or maybe your fourth. I’m not sure.”
The boy’s face relaxed, realizing that it wasn’t a joke.
“But why?” The boy asked.
Lucilius smiled. “Do you want to learn how to play the piano or do you just want to know how to play one song?”
The boy was a little dejected. “Shouldn’t I celebrate success along the way?”
Lucilius wagged his head a bit from side to side. “Every once in a while, sure. But for now let’s keep our eye on the goal.”
Years later, when the rapid and precise rattle of notes slammed perfectly into the end of the song, Lucilius was the first to stand among thousands, to applaud for the truly superlative performance.