Mad Scientist

Mad Scientist

Why are some of us so inclined to wander, never really able to settle in one place for very long? Is it genetic, or the result of the way we were raised? I don’t know its causes, but I’ve always been plagued with this chronic restlessness. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about this relentless wanderlust, and I wonder if my daughters, Rickie and Bailey, are also plagued by this turbulence. I hope not, but, then again, it can’t be helped, and one has to learn to live with it, just as one learns to live with his other challenges. Besides, it isn’t all bad; I’ve lived a rather interesting, if unsettled, life.

When I was in college, I started a cult, but no one joined. So I decided I’d become a pirate, but quickly realized that I lived a thousand miles from the nearest ocean. So I went back to my cult, in which every night for a week, I’d put on my hooded robe and sit cross-legged on the floor and stare into the flame of a candle. The more I stared into the flame, the less aware I became of my surroundings, until, finally, I’d lose all track of time and space. Unfortunately, instead of becoming more enlightened, I only became more confused. After an hour or so, when I’d regained consciousness, it occurred to me that I was nothing but energy, just like the flame of the candle. This is when I made the decision that I’d begin my journey to seek a perpetual state of pure energy. In order to do this, I figured, I’d need to find my soul, my center, which, since the universe is infinite (and, therefore, every point is its center), would also be the center of the universe. From a purely scientific (and philosophical) point of view, this seemed like an easy thing to do. As a practical matter, on the other hand, it turned out to be a long, long journey.

It wasn’t until twenty years later, while I was visiting a Navajo shaman, that it finally began to take on a form of some definite size and shape, something that I could get my arms around. He told me that in order to begin my journey, I needed to let go of everything that I believed to be true. I thought about this for a moment, thinking to myself: I can do this. But could I? When I’d told myself that I could, I had just been through a rather rigorous ceremony to rid myself of a deadly curse put on me by a sorcerer. It was possible that I wasn’t thinking too clearly. Upon further reflection, I decided that it might require a little more effort than just thinking that I could. What did it mean to let go of everything that I believed to be true?  When I thought about this further, I realized that this wasn’t going to be such an easy undertaking. In fact, it is now twenty years later, and I’m still trying to find the answer to this question. But all this thinking has led me to one elementary level of understanding: in the deepest recesses of each of our minds lurks a mad scientist, screaming to be let out.

If I can only figure out which door to my mind to open to let my mad scientist out, he’ll show me how to let go of everything I now hold to be true. The Navajo shaman also told me: one’s soul lies in darkness surrounded by light; in order to live in lightness, one has to find his way out of the darkness. That makes sense, but, once again, how do we go about this? In the ensuing years, I have come to realize that while my shaman might have been filled with deep wisdom, he wasn’t very good at giving directions. For instance, he also said that in order to get there, one simply needs to forget where he’s already been.

 Interesting, I thought. I could do that. Or could I? Again, what seemed so simple on the surface became more and more complex the deeper I dug. Forgetting where I’ve already been should be an easy thing to do; I simply needed to focus on the present, and the past will slip quietly away. Right? Not so fast! It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. The past has its own mad scientist directing its operations. And he’s a persistent fellow!

Over the past forty years, two things have begun to take shape in my mind: first, the past and the present are inextricably linked together; and second, the future is sardonic, sneering at our futile attempts to extricate ourselves from our pasts while constantly keeping an eye on the future. It is a silly exercise.

And what about my mad scientist? I’d called upon him for guidance, but he’d ignored my pleas. I had begun to think that maybe he didn’t even exist. But something kept whispering inside my feeble brain; as I began to listen more carefully, I’d begun to hear what the voice was telling me: just relax, take in more oxygen and, like the candle, your flame will continue to burn brightly. This voice told me that I was thinking too much; and, maybe, this is what my shaman had tried to tell me as well: one can’t think himself out of the past; instead, he just needs to breathe in the fresh air that surrounds him at this very moment, and the past will take care of itself. Yes, breathe, that’s it! Life is really that simple. Why worry about the process when all we need to do is just breathe in fresh air? Our bodies will take care of the rest. And as far as my mad scientist goes, he’ll take care of those worrisome thoughts tumbling around inside my head, if I just let him be; he’s right where he needs to be; he won’t do me any good out here in the fresh air, no, he’s better suited for the dark recesses of my brain.

  1. Hi Dave, I really enjoy your visual expression of your words!
    I was recently told a profound thing and it has totally effected my mind set. “Humans are the only specie that ignores their intuition.” We know something is wrong and the hair goes up on the back our neck, but we still proceed down that dark street or into other places our intuition is alerting to run the hell away.
    There are times I need to stop and breath and let my intuition take over, that is usually the best decision and things usually work out better.
    I know another little known fact in my life, “God is in control and has a great sense of humor when he lets me go out there in the world f— up.”

    • Hello, Jane,

      Thank you for your comments; I truly appreciated hearing from you. We are indeed in control of very little of what happens to us in this world. And I agree with you that we do find all sorts of ways to ignore our instincts; I find this to be an interesting phenomenon. But, on the other hand, I do believe that each of us has inside his head that voice, his mad scientist, screaming at him! And we manage to ignore even this voice, as compelling as it might be. Oftentimes, it is the best thing to do because our mad scientists can lead us astray. But on occasion we should listen to what he has to say. Great things tend to happen when we take the wildest chances! And I agree with you that God has a great sense of humor; the world would certainly be a much duller place if He didn’t. Thanks again.

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