published August 8, 2020
last edited August 10, 2020
As I brainstormed and brooded over the mathematical propositions in Plato's Timaeus, I was determined to understand what he was getting at. Both his unique recipe on "How to Make a Soul" and his algorithm detailing how to subdivide it into strips — as if the soul were a long sheet of paper you could cut with scissors — caused my brow to furrow as I stared desperately at the doodles and drawings scribbled on pages sprawled before me. They were my drawings and I was hoping for divine intervention to relinquish me from the work, to just give me the damn solution. I was hard at work, poised atop a marvellous patio that conveniently attached from my bedroom door. The sun was almost directly above me. It was scorching hot.
The mind wanders when you pin its focus too narrowly to one thing for too long. This is what I've observed in myself, and in this moment I watched my mind do the same thing. It waxed and waned across disparate thoughts of various importance. Did I get the dishes done? Is that the annoying twitch in my left abdominal again? Will my date show up tonight? You get the gist.
The sun's heat broke my concentration (or lack thereof) and roused me up to a standing position, my ten toes pushing deeper into the wood-paneled ground. I felt my senses come alive. I wanted to explore and do something courageous. I spun around and looked behind me, seeing a familiar sight: our rooftop, joined to the structure of the house, blocked from me only by a wooden railing running along the perimeter of the patio so nobody could fall off. As I peeked my head over to my right side of the house, I saw the right roof slant up to connect to the rafter, which is the highest part of the roof. I wanted to climb up (see illustration).
I pulled myself up onto the railing, then, tightly gripping onto the wooden slab with my hands, I lowered my dangling feet to touch the dark roof tiles closest to me. It was volcanic hot to the touch and I instantly recoiled. Okay, I'm not going to climb the roof. I double-downed on my decision after I felt my foot, pushed back against the roof to test its grip, begin to slide down it. I can't grip on.
My curiosity swung to a different place. Namely, to the white rimmed window that opened out from the middle of the right roof face, slightly protruding out (see illustration). As I focused attention to the blues and blacks of the roof tiles, directing my gaze along the roof's surface out to the boundary, I started to notice flickering on the surface. The furthest edge of the roof was vibrating about in unpredictable patterns, as if the roof were a two dimensional pond and a pebble had plopped into the water to create ripples along the horizon.
I moved my eyes back to the white strip I saw, holding my head steady, then I started lowering my head down. I watched as the furthest line and the closest line that constitute the roof's boundaries, started to move closer together. As my head lowered, the ripple effect, first in the far-off part of the roof, was now crawling up to envelop the white strip of the window. The white started to dance, undulating up and down in place. I kept lowering.
Vibrations of the waves spread evenly across the surface and began to amplify up to a chaotic dance, the white mixing down and up and down some more into the light blues of the sky and the dark tiles beneath it, similar to the way an artist dabs, dabbles, swipes and swishes her paint brush from color blotch to blotch on her mixing palette.
I was seeing a mirage. I was controlling it with my gaze.