I tend to burn things when I cook and take wrong turns and lose things in perfectly obvious places. This tendency is often attributed to "not thinking." I maintain that this is an inaccurate description of what's actually going on.
The other day, I was driving home from a neighboring town about 20 minutes away. I was driving our Camry, which due to harsh and repeated pushing of buttons, no longer has a working radio. When you’re driving in a car without a radio, you basically have two options.
One is to look out the window at passing scenery. This works great in a new area or someplace with an interesting or beautiful landscape. However, in my case, I’ve driven that same road far too many times to be entertained by the view.
So I fell back on my second option: making my own noise. I do this a lot when I’m in the car. It can mean praying, it can mean singing, it often means talking to myself.
Or I tell myself stories.
I don’t remember if I was actually talking out loud or not. It seemed real at the time. I was planning the detailed history of one of my characters.
This character, Seth, doesn’t know who his real parents are. And for the longest time, I didn’t know either. I knew where he grew up and how he thought and what his deepest fears and most precious dreams were. But I had no idea who his mother was or who his father was, or anything. And on this drive, I started figuring it out. Somehow Seth’s story got mixed up with the story of the rulers of the land.
King Charles, after years of struggling to bring the young country into some sort of order, had abdicated his throne to live the rest of his life in seclusion, leaving the kingship to his son John. But John’s older half-sister, Charles’ illegitimate daughter Anne, had her brother killed in order to seize the throne. Meanwhile, Charles met a young noblewoman, Bessie, who lived in a city near the castle of his self-imposed exile. He ignored reports of what was going on in the land and focused on courting the girl.
At some point, maybe five minutes out of my hometown, I somehow “woke up” enough to notice that I was getting low on gas. Not enough to be a problem, but maybe enough that I should stop in town and get gas. I made a mental note and went back into my inner world of court intrigue.
Bessie was young, weak, and foolish enough to covet the position of queen, even if it was queen in exile. She would have all she wanted, be rich for life, and whether anyone cared or not, she would be the wife of a king.
She had been seeing a young man in her city for years. They would be together, then fight, break up, and get back together again. And unbeknownst to anyone, Bessie had borne Mark a son.
Bessie had to get rid of both Mark and the young Seth in order to be available for the king. She found it easy to break up with Mark, but not so easy to find a home for a year-old baby. Finally, an old aunt, who cooked for a regiment of soldiers in a small town miles away, agreed to take him.
Seth lived with her for six months before she died. After that, he was raised by the regiment of soldiers, who trained him to be a spy and a soldier. And though they were good to him, they had no idea who his parents were.
Seth grew up to be a leader in the rebellion against Anne’s tyrannical rule. In the process, he saved the life of his half-sister, the daughter of Bessie and King Charles, Princess Grace. Maybe he’ll never know that Grace is his sister, or that he has any surviving family members...
Yes, dramatic. But it was fun. :)
By the time I got to this point in Seth’s story, I had driven past the gas station, through town, and was almost home. By the time I realized where I was and what I was actually, in real life, doing, it wasn’t worth turning around to get gas. So I just drove home.
This is why I tend to burn things when I cook and take wrong turns and lose things in perfectly obvious places. It’s not because I’m not thinking.
It’s because I am thinking.
Just about other things. :)