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The Tinkered Mind
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June 30th, 2019
Lucilius was sitting in a café sipping coffee, in a tired stupor when he became mindful of the fact that he was staring at a portly man eating a meal of pork belly. The hacked and forked pieces rose faster than the steam of the dish as the man mindlessly mangled the food with his restless chew. Lucilius wondered if the man even registered the taste of such things anymore. Lucilius himself had not eaten in a number of days, on purpose, and was looking forward to the brightened sensation of taste when he’d break the fast in a few more days. He looked down at his coffee, brought the mug to his lips and smelled the hot bitter and chocolate flavors as he took a sip and felt the flavors once more.
He looked back at the man, finding that he’d finished his meal and was again scrutinizing a menu. Lucilius thought about the meal, now dissolving in the man’s belly, thought about where it had all come from, when an old memory lit up in his mind.
Many years ago, he recalled his mother mourning the loss of his grandmother. Lucilius sighed, remembering the moment. For years his mother had recounted an instance when a brilliantly colored butterfly had visited her in a garden. The experience was deeply felt, for she’d been filled with the notion that the butterfly was somehow her mother, returning to visit her.
Lucilius frowned, remembering his own actions, his own suggestion. After enough times hearing the sweet story, he’d queried his mother with something he’d felt was quite obvious.
“I felt as though it was really her,” his mother had said, “it was like she was coming to tell me she was alright.”
“But,” Lucilius finally responded with as much curiosity as frustration, “butterflies only live for about a month. So does that mean she’s passed away again?”
In an instant he had regretted his selfish question. Looking back Lucilius had always been grateful for the genuinely perplexed and curious look that had overcome his mother when he finally asked. Her brow had furrowed a little.
“I never thought about that,” she said with a new and small smile.
The thought did not seem to sadden her, only interest her, as though Lucilius, with his question had lit up a part of her mind that had always been in the dark.
He could still feel a pang of worry about whether he’d caused his mother more pain, even though she seemed unbothered.
Lucilius returned to himself, rubbing some weariness from his eyes, taking another sip of coffee and pausing with the warm cup before his face as he looked to see a waiter setting down a new plate of steaming food before the portly man. With a fork, the man desecrated a perfectly poached and balanced egg, mashing the ruined mess into the rest of his food.
Lucilius noticed his own hands before his face, huddling the warm mug and wondered about all the individual cells of skin and bone, muscle and tendon that made them up. He took another sip of coffee, feeling the movement of those hands. And he wondered where it had all come from. All skin was like a blossom, he thought, continually emerging from within the body, arising from what was eaten.
How many different things, he wondered, had found their end just before they’d been made anew as part of his body? It seemed at the moment, a brutal process, everything getting torn apart to build again something different.
But the horror gave way to a flush of gratitude. He thought again of the butterfly dying and becoming many other things. From birds, and insects to plants and trees and on to all that the world had spun. So much life had turned itself over so that he, Lucilius, might arise,