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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


July 5th, 2020



The sunshine seemed to waver before it’s sheet of bright blue.  Light breeze drifted along an edge of the garden, and the crisp murmur of deep green leaves joined Lucilius’ realm of appreciation.  Distant taps grew harried and stamped, and Lucilius looked just in time to see the old wooden gate to his garden slammed shut by a friend.  Lucilius noticed one of the old joints in the gate gently fall apart from the crash.  He noted the need for fixing as he breathed in deep and took in the infuriated air of his friend as the man approached.


“Well, hello,” Lucilius said cheerfully.


The man glanced at Lucilius only to confirm the smile on Lucilius’ face.


“Same thing as yesterday, or something new today?” Lucilius asked.


The man’s pacing stopped.  “What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped.


Lucilius shrugged. “If it’s the same thing as yesterday, it saves you some explanation.”


“No really,” the man doubled-down, “what’s that supposed to mean?”


Lucilius shook his head softly.  “You were mad yesterday… you’re mad today…”


“You saying I’m always mad?”


“It wouldn’t be accurate to say it’s not a part of how you operate.”


“What is this?” the man charged, “yesterday you were kind, you understood what I was going through, and today, I get this snark.”


“You’re right, I should be more consistent,” Lucilius said, “like you.”


“Oh, so I’m always mad?”


“Yea, we just went over this.”


“Why are you doing this?  Can’t you see I’m already I’m angry?  Why are you trying make this worse for me?”


“Well,” Lucilius said, leaning back against the great oak tree of his garden, breathing in, his brow softly rising.  “You seem determined that such anger will show you the way forward.  You entertain it all the time, so it must work for you.  Does it not follow to help you by fueling it a little more?  Get you there faster to the crux of action?”


“Oh so you are trying to make me more angry, great.”


“Figure it might help.”


“And why do you figure that?”


“Like I said, you entertain anger so much.”


“You say it like I have choice.  You think I wanted to be angry today?


Lucilius shrugged.  “Does it really work any other way?”


“Something bad happens, you get pissed off.  With what you’re saying it’s like I want bad things to happen because I want to be pissed off.”


Lucilius dazed off momentarily as he listened.  His eyes came to focus and he found he was looking at the gate at the other end of the garden, now broken.  He smiled limply, and kept the smile as he looked back to his friend.


“How well does it serve you?”




“Your anger, yesterday.  Today… Every time something bad happens: how well does your anger serve you?  Does it do the job?  Does it help?  Do you find yourself reflecting gratefully upon the brilliant things you’ve done out of anger?  Because, if the answer is yes, if anger serves you well, then I don’t see much problem.”


Lucilius’ friend merely looked away, squinting at the brighter sight of blue.


“It seems to me that anger serves you much as it serves everyone else.  As a servant of your person, your character, and your life, it seems to serve itself first, provoking you again, beyond the bad bit of life, spurring you on to some other decision to regret, to bitterly reflect upon, and again get angry about.  In that way, anger seems as though it has more foresight than ourselves, planting seeds in the present for a worse future, one over which we’re likely to again become angry.”


The man’s mouth pulled tight against his face as he looked away from Lucilius.  Then he walked away, hurriedly.  And when he opened the gate, his anger interrupted momentarily from the reluctance of the little door.  The man looked to find the damaged bottom dragging on the stone path.  But the resistance only frustrated him more, the realization of what he’d done making it worse.  He tore the gate open and tried to slam it again, but it slid short and stopped as the man walked away.


Lucilius got up and slowly walked to the gate.  He knelt down to look at the details of the break.  He’d been meaning to tend to it for some time, having noticed how weak it’s construction had grown.  It would be good, Lucilius reflected.  It had been quite a while since he’d plied his tools, and now he wondered why, knowing how much he enjoyed the work, now grateful for the opportunity.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 812: A Lucilius Parable: Subversive Servant

Tinkered Thinking

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