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The Tinkered Mind
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July 28th, 2019
Lucilius was hiking along a trail he’d heard lead to a high and beautiful view. He stopped to drink some water and as he began to continue again, a woman who seemed in quite a hurry came up along the trail towards Lucilius. She matched his pace pretty quickly, and Lucilius made a friendly observation.
“My my, you’re in a hurry.”
It was as though the woman hadn’t even noticed Lucilius until he’d spoken, so concentrated as she was on the ground in front of her.
“Oh,” she said, “yea, I like to get up there as fast as I can.”
“Why’s that?” Lucilius asked.
The woman slowed a little to Lucilius’ pace, and a somewhat confused look came over her.
“Well, I find that I’m happiest up there, and so the faster I get up to the top, the sooner I can be happy.”
Lucilius puzzled over this logic for a moment. “What’s so special about the top that makes you happy?”
The woman looked once more confused, as though the question had never occurred to her. “I guess maybe the view? It’s a good one, and it’s usually so quiet, and everything is so still.”
She said this as Lucilius struggled to keep up with her furious pace. “Well,” Lucilius said. “Don’t let me hold you back.”
The woman gave a limp sort of smile. “Maybe I’ll see you at the top?”
“Maybe,” Lucilius said.
He watched the woman move up through the woods at her restless speed and once she was out of sight, he became aware of himself again. The good labor of his breath, the squeeze and burn of muscles working, and always the living landscape around him, enclosed by the canopy of trees, moving past him. The moment, as it moved, as it bloomed forward in time seemed so lovely to Lucilius. Thoughts of projects, about the future and memories came and went, but always Lucilius was able to somehow pause and see the details and design of the moment and somehow breath it all in, feeling a wide sense of gratitude.
As Lucilius reflected on the moment between his other wandering thoughts, there came the hurried footfalls of someone else coming down the trail. He looked to see a young man, practically running down the trail. As he came close to Lucilius, he was startled by Lucilius’ presence and tripped, falling harmlessly to the ground.
“Are you ok?” Lucilius asked, himself startled by the sight.
“Yea, I think so,” the young man said as he took hold of Lucilius’ proffered hand. Lucilius hauled the young man up.
“Going pretty fast there,” Lucilius commented.
“I dunno, just gotta keep moving, I guess.”
“What do you mean?” Lucilius asked.
The young man sighed, looking back up the path, as though there were something there. “It seems if I stay in one place for too long, I just start feeling this dread and panic. I went for this hike because I thought it would feel good, and I thought maybe I could get some rest at the top, with a good view, far away from everyone. But just sitting up there for a minute or two and suddenly, I’m just filled with dread and panic again, and I just want to leave. It’s like it catches up with me again, and I just have to keep moving to feel ok.”
“Maybe these feelings are trying to catch up in order to tell you something important?” Lucilius offered.
The young man sneered. “Yea right.”
Lucilius could see the young man was starting to feel uneasy again.
“Well, I’ll let you get a move on, so that you can feel better.”
“Thanks,” the young man said as he move on down the trail.
Lucilius paused for a moment as the young man drifted out of sight. The leaves of the high canopy swayed in a high breeze, flashes of sun blinked in the wobbling gaps. Lucilius felt the fresh air fill his lungs. He could feel even his heartbeat, radiating pulses out through his body and limps. It was a beautiful, simply perfect day, Lucilius thought, as he started up the trail once more.