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The Tinkered Mind
A meditation app is forthcoming. Stay Tuned.
October 28th, 2018
Lucilius found himself honored with the opportunity to be a Godfather. He sat before the smiling infant and wondered what thoughts were running through the child’s mind. Such thoughts could scarcely be anything couched in words, but more like a kaleidoscope of concept, Lucilius concluded.
He decided to play the age-old game with the child. He covered his face with his hands, and then after a few moments, he smiled, opened his hands and said:
The young child squealed in delight and surprise at the sight of Lucilius’ face. Lucilius covered his face once more and the child’s delight simmered down to the usual quiet babble. He smiled, opened his hands once more and repeated:
The child squealed again with delight, and what seemed to Lucilius an equal amount of surprise.
He sat for a moment, smiling at his Godson. Thinking.
The godson’s mother watched Lucilius’ curious face from across the room, and her new-mother-nerves made her cautiously curious.
“What’s up over there?”
Lucilius looked over at his godson’s mother. “Oh nothing, I was just thinking about this peek-a-boo thing that we do with kids.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“Well,” Lucilius said, looking at his godson, “ he probably doesn’t yet have a full grasp as to what constitutes a hand, let alone be able to recognize my hands. It’s faces that we probably learn first. Yours is most definitely the very first, and that makes fairly intuitive sense… you are his sole source of nourishment and where he’s spent most time.”
“Yea, ok. What’s that got to do with peek-a-boo?”
“Well, peek-a-boo doesn’t work with anyone older. We all know wha t’s going on, and when a person covers their face, there’s no surprise when they take their hands away.”
“Yea, ok, so?”
“I was just thinking about what must be going on in his head when we play peek-a-boo.”
“Well he can’t see you anymore so he thinks you’re gone and he’s happy when you show up again, whereas I know you haven’t actually left.”
“Yea, I think you’re spot on,” Lucilius said. “But what occurred to me is what it would take for someone older, like us, to have the same level of surprise.”
“What do you mean?”
“I guess like a magic trick. A magician will count on the thing that we take for granted, which is that when we cover our hand with something, it’s still there behind our hand, like my face here when I play peek-a-boo. The magician does some sort of switch so that when the result is uncovered there’s been some kind of unanticipated change and that’s how we get that little thrill of excitement like this little guy gets when I play peek-a-boo.”
“I’d never thought of that, but I guess that makes sense.”
“Yea, but I think the cool part is, that this guy wouldn’t get a thrill from the magic trick.” Lucilius looked to the mother to see if she was following his thinking.
“No… I guess he wouldn’t.”
“Yea… he doesn’t expect anything because he hasn’t learned that my face is still behind my hands when I hold them in place.”
The mother thought for a moment. And Lucilius continued.
“In some sense, he’s having a more authentic version of reality than we are. For him, things are simply arising in consciousness, and he’s taking them as they come, whereas we create a story that we go along with, and – for the most part- reality seems to go along with our story because what we’ve figured out is generally accurate, but then there are those simple and easy magic tricks turn us into infants again for a moment.”
The mother looked at her son with a strange look of appreciation. “yea, you know, it’s been interesting to watch him slowly learn little things.”
Lucilius laughed. “Perhaps it’s a mistake to learn some of the things we think we know.”
The mother laughed in turn. “Tell that to my husband.”
Lucilius smiled and turned back to his godson. He covered his face for a moment and then, smiling, took them away again.