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The Tinkered Mind
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June 16th, 2019
Lucilius was meditating in his garden when a young friend, a pupil of sorts opened the gate and let it swing closed with a two step clack, as the young man tramped up along the garden’s stepping stones to the base of the big oak where Lucilius sat. None of Lucilius’ friends, nor even acquaintances, nor strangers ever had any issue approaching him and talking to him while he sat in meditation. This was the fruit of reflection on his part. For many years early in his meditation practice an odd curiosity had pooled around the whole strangeness of interruptions. It took years, but slowly he had begun to give into such interruptions, welcoming them, and found that more and more, such instances ceased to be interruptions. He found that the very notion of an interruption, the word itself, the feelings he had associated with such a phenomenon, all of it, might not even exist. Whether that was a realization or time in practice had finally enabled him to reach some indefinable point, he found that his practice continued through the interruption. It was for this very same reason that he often meditated with his eyes open. Not only was the difference trivial, but much of the time, people merely failed to notice that Lucilius was meditating at all.
The young man heaved in some air and molded it into a particularly aggrieved and frustrated sigh as he took a seat on stone bench near Lucilius. The conversational bait was plump, but Lucilius knew as well as the boy felt that such a signal was clear enough for them both. Lucilius merely waited, as the boy’s thoughts and wish to connect bubbled up.
Some anger in memory twisted the boys face a little as he thought, until he blurted “just can’t seem to talk to her.”
Lucilius looked to the troubled boy, pausing. “You can’t seem to talk to her?” Lucilius queried.
The boy glanced at Lucilius. “My mother I mean. I just can’t talk to her. No matter what I say, she just seems to hear something else. She never understands.”
Lucilius reflected further. “She never understands?” he asked.
“Well,” the boy said, “maybe that’s a little unfair. This isn’t the language she grew up with, and of course she understands, I mean, she speaks perfectly, but she can be so sensitive. It’s like, she’s got it in her head that she’s not good with this language, but she’s as good as anyone else that grew up with it. But with me, she just seems to find the one little way to totally miss what I’m trying to say.”
Lucilius picked up on something boy said. “what you’re trying to say?”
“Yea,” the boy said. “She understands everyone else just fine even though she doesn’t think so, but it’s just with me that whatever I’m tying to get across just seems to curve right around her, and never hits home. I end up feeling like there’s something wrong with the way I’m talking, cause we just argue and argue and we get so angry even though I try so hard.”
“You try so hard?” Lucilius parroted.
It seemed to land hard with the boy, and he looked away, thinking. “I guess I could try harder,” the boy said, softer now. “I guess,” he began, pausing to think back. “I guess, I kind of just do the same thing over and over with her. And the whole thing repeats.”
The boy grew quiet, staring off at the grades of green among the plants. The deep and shaded greens tucked away from the near-white glitter in the garden where the sun touched the bare leaves and petals. The boy stood up and wandered a few paces away from the oak tree. He turned Lucilius’ way without meeting his look and said “Thanks,” and then walked away, leaving the garden.
Lucilius continued to sit in meditation, finding no reason arising to arise himself, and so he sat in the garden through the rest of the day and into the evening, until the sky grew darkened and bright with stars. He slept at the base of the oak and in the morning continued his meditation. The new sun was just beginning to pick out the high bright points in the garden when the gate clacked again, and the same young man came walking up towards Lucilius.
“I figured something out!” he exclaimed as he neared and took a seat in front of Lucilius, crossing his legs as the boy did when he sought lessons in meditation from Lucilius.
“You figured something out?” Lucilius asked, curious.
“Yea, sort of by chance but what a difference. My mother and I. We got into a big argument last night after I went home. And I got so angry with her. I just didn’t know what to do, and she was so angry, and then randomly, I didn’t really plan it, I said a bad word. But I said it in her language – My uncles, they stayed with us once and I learned all the bad words from them, and I’m not really good with her language, I can only say basic things and these bad words of course. And last night I was so angry with her that I cursed, but in her language, and you know what happened?”
“What happened?” Lucilius said, with a hampered smile.
“She calmed down. She went from being so angry with me, to just immediately being calm. She even smiled and I don’t think she even realized it. She’s never done anything like that while we’re upset and arguing, and I couldn’t believe it. Obviously, it was just because she was hearing her language, like it was something familiar, and so I tried really hard to say my point in her language, and she helped me through it. She corrected me, but in a good way, as though she actually really wanted to hear what I was saying instead of just being somehow dead-set against understanding me. I just couldn’t believe it. We actually had a really nice discussion, and I learned more of her language.
But it’s crazy to think, if I’d said those same words, but not in her language, things would have gotten so much worse. I mean… I was really angry. But it calmed her down. Just by hearing her own language.”