I often think of my mind as a vast network of boxes(insert joke about size of mind here). Many boxes are cataloged, some are cast about haphazardly (insert joke about messy rooms here), but on the whole it’s one giant dark warehouse filled with boxes. Each box is filled with a memory, a thought, a feeling, or some such noun.
Everyone knows that the more boxes you have, the more likely you are to forget which box you’ve placed a certain thing in. In addition, when you’re tearing off box lids looking for one thing, you are more than likely to encounter various other things along the way, some of which you probably forgot were there. I’ve been gathering one or two samples of various toys from childhood for awhile now, including a Lego “A-Wing Fighter” from Star Wars, a toy tank, several Hot Wheels cars, a couple floppy disks (“What‘s THAT?” asks the Millennials), and 2 cartridges from our first video game console (console not included). I consider them to be like keys that unlock a particular vault of memories.
Now I’ve also found as I go from one thing to the next in life that a great many things are related. For instance, the Bible relates to all things, whether you intended it to or not. I’m frequently struck by a sudden connection between the topic at hand and a verse I happened to read the other day (and it’s at times like this that I’m thankful for an online concordance). Thus, often when I open the box to the memory I was looking for,I find side columns and footnotes pointing me in all different directions.
Between the ages of roughly 18-21 I would at times jump in the car with several friends and just drive. Call us unimaginative,call us comfortable, or call us crazy – we would just drive, sometimes for a couple of hours. My particular favorite method was to drive until you hit a red light and then call a mechanic (no, not LITERALLY hit it). My particular favorite method was to drive until you hit a red light, and then decide whether to turn right or left (usually once the light had turned green). So it was that on random choice we would wander about within 10-15 miles of home, windows down and with no care for the work we had in the morning. I don’t necessarily recommend the pastime, but it’s a handy metaphor.
When I visit my college I like to wander the paths between the dorms and let my mind wander through 4 years of memories upon memories layered on those paths. Sitting here now, if I dared to break my train of thought, I could do the same – but it’s more vivid when I’m actually there.
Regarding trains of thought: Sometimes when I lose my train of thought I think of the movie Inception: “You’re waiting for a train. A train that’ll take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you. But you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter…”
Where this train is headed is an appreciation of authors. I’ve encountered what I consider to be many authors in my reading years, and in a variety of circumstances if you will.
Some authors I’ve treated with hostility, like door-to-door salesman selling things I find neither intriguing nor good nor even basically useful. (As a past door-to-door salesman, I approve this negative metaphor)
In this group I lump most philosophers, academics, and art historians)
Other authors I’ve let in the door so that they could toss about confetti and fireworks for a moment before leaving. In this group I lump K.A. Applegate, J.K. Rowling, R.A. Salvatore, and Kevin J. Anderson.
Still a third group of authors comprise those who show up in ragged clothing but, upon inspection, reveal that they have an excellent steak for me to chew on. In this group I lump Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card(he barely escaped the confetti group, to be honest), Kierkegaard, and (if I’m being fully honest) some several books of the Bible.
A fourth group belongs to those who enter with strong references from either my trusted friends or theirs. These are the authors who have a look around and start sprucing up the place, making it a more delightful place to live. In this group I include Ray Bradbury, whom I thank for the scent of summer that lingers during all 4 seasons; Brandon Sanderson, whom I thank for laughter and optimism in the face of great evil, and a love of characters; and Tolkien and Lewis, whom I thank here for swords, rich worlds, and excellent sin and savior metaphors.
The fifth group, which is the reason why I’m writing this whole thing in the first place – thus why it’s the last thing (see, I learned SOMETHING in journalism school) – are authors who walk in while I’m looking the other way and start applying fresh labels and throwing open long-untouched boxes. These are the authors that reach into my mind and perform a magic trick, producing certain bold ideas and inspirations from boxes I had thought contained the memories of June 15th, 1994 or the scrapings of an essay by Kant. Raising each item to the light to examine it, they give names to these barely-recognized artifacts and I am left dumbfounded while muttering “Yes…yes that’s exactly what that was. I hadn’t thought of it that way!” Frequently this leads to me throwing open adjacent boxes to discover that those are related as well.
Often these authors produce from containers certain ingredients that I hadn’t realized would make a sensational concept when combined. This infusion of new ingredients tends to, when combined, cause an explosion that knocks down the nearest wall into an adjoining warehouse. The fresh air from this before-unknown warehouse makes the whole cavernous place a lot more pleasant to be in, and the added space lends optimism to my future plans – what will I be able to fill THAT with?
Into this fifth group I lump N.D. Wilson, Doug Wilson,C.S. Lewis, Sinclair Ferguson, Jay Adams (to name the most recent members anyway) and (if I’m being fully honest) a growing number of books of the Bible.
I don’t know if I had a point to this other than to express the conceptualization I have of how my mind operates, and in particular to give tribute to the authors who have shaped me thus far. Other than that I need to shuffle a handful of books from group 3 to group 4, unless they should happen to sneak into group 5 on their own.
For now, I’ll leave it at that.