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The Tinkered Mind
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June 7th, 2020
for Sharon, who wanted a story with a stream in it.
Lucilius was sitting on a rock poised in the middle of a stream. He’d traversed a haphazard path of smaller rocks that jutted out in the water, leading from the short sandy bank, gnarled with curling tree roots. Lucilius adjusted himself, finding that the rock was most comfortable looking upstream. He rested, taking in the place. Threads of water, weaving in living patterns upon the surface gently flowed toward him. It was as though he were moving forward, propelled through the water, and during moments of delightful illusion, he couldn’t tell if it were the water moving or himself. It was as good as any place to sit in meditation. He closed his eyes, and in darkness, the sound of the water dabbling along the land’s ragged edge drifted to him, then the softer splicket of water folding in upon itself, and then finally below it, the low resonance of so much moving across the earth.
Upon that rock, Lucilius spread his mind out against the world to let it dissolve against his experience. Thoughts materialized in that otherworldly film, as though laid against experience, but he merely watched them without eyes, as though they were sounds drifting up from the water, arriving, and flowing across his mind, and moving on. One such thought was the realization that all thoughts, sensations, realizations themselves were arriving to push and carve the mind. Lucilius opened his eyes to look again at the water moving around him. Everywhere, the water was carving it’s own bed, shaping the way it would carve again in the next moment. Rocks rounded, and sediment stirred in gentle tumult, moving like thought through a stream of water and time.
Lucilius closed his eyes again, smiling at that perpetual want of the mind, to grasp, to hang on to each and every little thing - that touch of the mind instantly casting pieces of life into things of the past, cast back, looking back, fossilizing the moment in memory, already crumbling. He breathed deeply and let go of all attempt to grasp at it, and sunk deeply into the present.
Time then smiled upon Lucilius, bowing deeply to the handsome trick, and then it left Lucilius to be in peace. The water of the small stream continued to make it’s bed, carving and burrowing the shape of it’s movement into the earth, the earth itself just a slower stream of movement.
Days past without touching Lucilius. Months carved away with their passing until they became years, and the years, gently moving the tumult of days slowly rounded the decades and centuries, until eons were born.
When Lucilius opened his eyes again, he found that the small stream had left for him his island of rock, and had carved deeply and widely around it. Lucilius now sat upon a stone tower in the middle of a canyon. He could see far below the stream that had become a river stretch off to the horizon from where it came.
He could no longer hear the movement of the water, now seeing only its grand shape. And it in, he sensed something. He followed the vision of the dark water, looking down off the edge of the tower, and then slowly he turned to look behind himself.
He witnessed in a curious and terrible awe as the river extended past, and there behind him it continued to change, lifting, as though separating from the page of reality, the water transforming, snapping to new shapes, like letters or magnets suddenly pulled with immense force into new positions, immortalizing them. The water, and the stream itself became words and data, bifurcating out of the only existence Lucilius could know. And from there it continued to stream, forming itself in a perfect memory before moving on to pages and into eyes, and into speakers, and into ears where it then continues to stream in the minds that contemplate these words.