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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


April 22nd, 2018

During his travels, Lucilius found himself walking through a vast expanse of grassy, rolling hills. It was midday when a single huge tree rising from a large hill came into view. He kept walking and the tree disappeared as he descended into a valley. And again he saw it as he mounted the next hill. He decided it would make a good spot to rest and meditate and headed for the tree. But, as he descended into the next small valley and the tree clipped from sight, he saw something fall from the tree.

From the next hill he saw something fall once more from the tree.

He walked on until he was climbing the very hill where the tree stood. The final steps to the steep hill revealed a small boy, bruised at the knees and elbows, a scrap on his leg clotted with blood and his face puckered with dried tears. He was just about to climb the tree when he noticed Lucilius near.

“Are you ok?” Lucilius asked the small boy.

The boy nodded and looked back to the tree.

“What are you doing?” Lucilius asked.

Looking up into the tree, the little boy said only “I’m going to fly.”

Looking again to the bruises and crusting blood, Lucilius asked “and how do you plan to do that?”

The boy turned away from the tree to face Lucilius.

“If only I jump from a higher branch.” He looked up into the tree, studying the high boughs. “Then maybe I’ll really fly.”

“You’ve tried the lower branches have you?” Lucilius asked. The boy nodded. “And what makes you think you can fly?”

“I was told I can do anything. I just have to believe.”

Lucilius drew nearer to the boy and sat against the tree, pondering the boy’s borrowed wisdom.

“Then why, dear boy, do you aim to jump from a higher branch, if it’s only a matter of believing?”

The boy looked at Lucilius, confused.

“But I do believe.”

“But you are the one that said that believing is all that’s needed.”

The boy wondered about this and Lucilius went on.


“There seems to be another part of your mind – a very useful part of your mind – that is willing to wonder if there’s more to it than just believing. And so you came up with the idea of a higher place to jump from. But what branch or cliff should matter if you believe?”

The boy looked hard at Lucilius, pondering this question. Then his gaze shifted back to his plan high up in the tree, his certainty faltering. 

“Perhaps more is required than simple belief? Believing, yes is important and necessary. But perhaps there is more to making things happen than merely believing in the possibility. If you charge ahead, determined to simply believe more truly, then you rob yourself of clear thinking, and that can lead you to do something you may not want to. Something you may regret. Something that may even end up hurting you.”

The boy looked at Lucilius and followed his nod to the bruises and dried blood.

“Put belief aside for a little while. It seems you’ve got it well covered.”

The boy looked longingly back up into the high branches.

“Come sit with me boy and we’ll think about it together.”

The boy sighed, and then sat with Lucilius.

“What gives you the idea to fly?”

“The birds.”

“And what do the birds have that make them fly?”


“And do you have wings?”

Dejected, the boy looked to the ground and responded, “no..”

“Can you grow wings, or magically make yourself somehow have wings like birds?”


“It seems there is a little more to flying than just believing.”


“Do you like building things?”

The boy peered at Lucilius, suspicious.

“My father says my hands are too small for tools. So I don’t know.”

“We must work with what we have, accepting our limitations instead of ignoring those limitations and trying in vain to do what we cannot. But the key is to first figure out what those limitations are. Then we must survey what we have to work with. And so often, our focus on limitations blinds us from seeing all that is available to us.”

Lucilius picked up a seed fallen from the tree. The seed was shaped like two small wings adjoined with thicker seeds. He picked up another pair and a small twig. Taking a small knife from his satchel, he stripped the twig and made cuts into each end where he fitted the pairs of seed wings. He gave the little glider a push and it flew a few feet before landing in the soft grass.

The boy’s face lifted, and he scurried over to the little glider. He held it up and inspected it before launching it off and watching it soar. 

“Sometimes, our dreams don’t fit into the world too well.

... sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we are our dreams. We have minds that dream by any rules and sometimes no rules. But the world exists because of subtle natural rules, and we must learn them if we hope to bring any of our dreams to life.”

The boy raced over to the glider and picked it up again, and then walked slowly back to Lucilius.

“Following a dream blindly can cause us much pain.”

The boy handed the glider to Lucilius, and Lucilius launched it high into the sky, and the boy watched with delight as the glider caught an updraft and flew higher than the highest boughs of the tree.

“Sometimes, we have to let go of our dreams to watch them soar.”

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 7: A Lucilius Parable: Soaring Dreams

Tinkered Thinking

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