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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


April 14th, 2019

Lucilius was in his garden looking at mushrooms that had popped up overnight, wondering how they might be connected, gently unearthing some of the mycelium and following it’s growth when the old wooden gate creaked.  He looked to see a young man walking along the stones towards him.  He took a seat on a fallen log near Lucilius without greeting him.  Lucilius looked his way briefly and then continued with his study of the mycelium.


“How goes it?”  Lucilius asked.


The young man sighed.  “Pretty overwhelmed, I guess.”


“Oh?” Lucilius prodded.


The boy sighed again.  “I’ve been given a huge project, and I don’t know what to do.”


“Why not?”


“There’s so much to it, so many pieces, I’m just not sure where to start.”


“Start anywhere,”  Lucilius recommended, glancing at the young man who was rubbing his eyes, squeezing his brows to a pinch at the bridge of his nose.  He opened his eyes as though waking up again, his eyelids fluttering. 


“Yea, but I need to know how I’m going to do the rest before I start or else I might mess something up in the beginning.”


“It’ll figure itself out, such is the nature of these processes.”


“How do you mean?”


Lucilius sat back from his investigation of the mycelium and looked at the young man.  “Do you remember when we went to see those huge pyramids?”




“You can imagine building a pyramid, by simply placing blocks in a square, and then placing blocks in the shape of a smaller square on top of the first.”


“Yea, I guess.”


“You do not have to worry about the size of the fifth or sixth square because the one below determines how much smaller it should be.  If you think about construction in that way, each step tells you what the next should be.”


“That works with a pyramid, sure, but I don’t see how that applies to my task.”


Lucilius watched the boy for a moment, seeing how tired he was.  “If you stretch your mind to be more flexible, you might see how it can be much the same.  You might for a moment think about the sentences you speak.  Do you have them totally written out in your mind every time before you utter a first word?  Or does our speech seem to organize itself as it goes?”


The boy thought for a tense moment and then sighed in tired frustration.


“Let’s think about this a different way,” Lucilius said.  “Is it easy or difficult to move a huge stone pyramid?”


“Difficult” the young man said.


“That base layer of the pyramid need no particular order in the way it is laid.  You can start with a corner stone or a stone at the center.  The order only matters once we actually have something to work with, hence the next level.”


“Ok, what does this have to do with moving a pyramid?”


“Well you are concerned with the complete picture, the end-goal.  In essence, it’s that last capstone at the top that you are concentrating on.  You have it all flipped, and now let me ask you, how difficult is it to topple a pyramid when it’s balanced upside down?”


The boy again sighed in tired frustration.


“But there’s something else that I think needs attending to first.”


“What’s that?”


“It seems you might benefit by giving tomorrow a good foundation by getting a long night of rest.  It seems now that everything I say topples your mind when I’m trying to help you build up a spirit with which to tackle your task.”

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 364: A Lucilius Parable: Foundation

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