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The Tinkered Mind
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November 18th, 2018
When Lucilius was middle aged he came to the realization that he had lost something integral to what it means to be alive. This realization had snuck up on him gradually and when he fully realized what sort of thought had been creeping up on him, he stopped doing everything he had going on and walked to a park every morning and spent the days contemplating what exactly it was that he had lost.
After several days he felt as though he was circling the answer and getting ever closer. And just as he felt as though the words to perfectly describe the object of his search were bubbling up in his mind, a small dust devil gathered in the park and stirred the autumn leaves into a small whirlwind. He watched the leaves rise and then tighten into the circular column of wind. He followed the narrowing width of the column down to the bottom and noticed that not a single leaf occupied that bottom spot on the ground where one could imagine it being torn apart. The leaves simply rustled in a tighter circle, tumbling around on the ground.
Lucilius realized in that moment that he had likewise been circling with his thoughts and as close he might get, he was never going to get at the center of it. The whirlwind he was watching slowly dissipated, dropping leaves as it lost power.
Lucilius decided to approach what was going on from a different angle. Instead of trying to think his way to some sort of solution that he imagined might exist, he decided to recreate his youth, and instantly dreams of a big adventure across many lands popped into his mind. But just as quickly, the idea lost it’s luster. Would such an adventure just be a distraction he wondered? He thought about the adventures he’d had throughout his life and asked himself if there was some sort of thread that ran through them, binding them together in their combined usefulness. It was not the epic landscapes, nor the foreign food, nor sounds of different places, not necessarily even the people, though these are all touted as such important aspects of such adventures. Lucilius did not deny them their value, but there was something else, more elemental that he was looking for, the thread that has come lose and pulled smoothly from who he now found he was.
A young mother, tired and moving slow followed as her toddler doddled out into the grassy park stippled with rusted leaves. The child tripped, fell and paused, contemplating what had happened before scrunching face and letting out a howl. The mother, who had just sat on a bench let her face momentarily fall into her hand so she could rub her eyes before she got up and walked over to the child.
Lucilius got up and walked away. The next day he boarded a plane and flew to an arid part of the world. On the edge of a vast desert, he purchased a truck. It took some strange negotiating, but he made sure that he was sold a truck with many issues. He drove the truck to a local hardware store and bought some jugs of water and a completely random assortment of tools, paying no mind to the sort that might be needed by such a problem truck.
And then he drove off into the evening desert. It wasn’t two hours into the hottest part of the next day when the truck broke down.
Lucilius got out and looked around. There was nothing in sight save for magnificent plateaus standing like lone bricks taken from the sky. There was no help and Lucilius had brought no way to communicate with anyone else.
With sweat running down his face, he unloaded his box of tools and popped the hood. He looked at the dizzying complexity of the mechanics in front of him and felt a sense of panic overwhelm him with anxiety.
He looked around again at the empty vastness and then remembered why he’d come to this place. Astonished that he’s nearly completely forgot, he burst out laughing, alone in the middle of nowhere. He smiled, wondering how he might get out of this mess, and opened the box of tools. He pulled out a gardening shovel and laughed again, remembering how mindlessly he had tossed things into the shopping cart.
With sun and wide sky above him, he took in the hot air and smiled.
“Well old boy,” he said. “You got yourself in this mess, you can get yourself out, so let’s figure out how you’re gonna do it.”
Lucilius got to work, slowly guiding the lost thread back.