17 January 2008
Unlocking the Spark
“The mind holds many secrets, many of these secrets are still a mystery to us,” the line was delivered with no emotion and immediately fell flat. The solemn and slouched man behind the podium brushed his reddish curls away from his eyes, and continued his lecture to a disinterested crowd, “Perhaps one day we will truly understand what our minds our capable of.”
Satisfied that he was preparing his Psychology students for the real world, where the tedious nature of science reigned, Dean Finder trudged back to his office. An eager student squirmed his way through the crowded hallways, trying to catch up to Dean Finder. “Dean Finder, Dean Finder,” he shouted out over the bustling crowds.
With a sluggish turn of his head Finder saw Billy Barty racing down the hall towards him, and he gave a deep sigh. Billy had been a thorn in his side since he had entered his classroom. His insistence that the true secret to the brain was its ability to imagine both practical and impractical ideas gnawed at Dean Finder, who knew that the untapped potential of the mind’s memory was the true riddle worthy of exploration.
“Dean Finder,” Billy gasped when he reached Finder, as he tried to catch his breath. “Dean Finder, I was just reading this article by Dr. McCann, and he says that…,” Billy’s ramblings were his trademark, but Finder was in no mood to humor the young man today, and abruptly cut him short.
“Billy, Dr. McCann is a quack, and his works should be taken as such,” he snapped in his typical dull pronunciation, and he continued his steady retreat to his office, leaving the boy stunned and stationary in the middle of the hall.
That night a terrible storm whipped up, filled with lightning and all the other elements that fill the various tales of fright. But Finder was not concerned and, in fact, went to bed early. But, just as he was beginning to nod off into a dream, his doorbell rang. He ignored it and rolled over. The bell chimed again, and then a third time. Grumbling, he got out of bed and began to stumble towards the door, without turning on a light. As he shuffled across the floor, Finder began to build up static electricity which, as any good man of science would know, has to find a way to discharge. As he reached for the doorknob the static found its release, and created an arc of electricity, shocking the Dean.
“What a spark,” he whispered, truly flabbergasted.
When he opened the door, there was no one there. Logically, he had taken too long to get to the door, and the person had left. But somewhere, deep within the secret places of his mind, the spark was skipping around, causing Finder to wonder if, just perhaps, there had ever been someone there at all, or that perhaps, just perhaps, instead of driving away, they flew away. These ideas, along with many others, continued to fumble through the Dean’s brain all through the night as he slept.
The next morning, Dean Finder decided he had bigger and better things to do than sit inside a stuffy lecture hall, and so he called in sick. His assistant, so shocked that the Dean had called in sick, continued to call his house throughout the day, to make sure he was still alive. Throughout the day, Finder had been reading, everything from Jules Verne to Dr. McCann, and sketching hurriedly. Finally, he could no longer contain his amusement, “Ho he ho, my dear girl, I am fine. I am simply…, I am simply…, well, I am creating creations!”
For the next several days he continued this process, but, not wanting to abandon his students, he sent articles along to his assistant to pass out to his class. There was never a mention of an exam, nor a date for when the students should finish reading these articles. Though these questions were raised, first by the students, then his assistant, and later the school itself, there was never a satisfactory answer, only gibberish about “marvelous new ideas.” The number of students attending class began to dwindle until, one day, only Billy showed up to class. Even Dean Finder’s assistant had stopped coming to class.
Billy decided it was time to check on Dean Finder, and more importantly, find out what had ignited his new view of the mind. He had heard rumblings of strange things going on near Finder’s house, but dismissed the reports, as any parent would dismiss their child’s account of the odd occurrences at the old spooky house on the hill. But, as he approached, he began to believe there was some truth to the reports he had been hearing. There, in the field beside Dean Finder’s house, was an excitable man, dashing about a contraption that was strapped to some sort of hot air balloon, laughing all the while. This man could have been Dean Finder, if not for the beard, purple suit, and all around pleasant nature.
As he drew closer towards the field, the man turned to greet him, “Hello there, Billy. It is so wonderful to see you,” spouted the purple clad man.
“Dean Finder?” question Billy hesitantly.
“Oh, heh ho ho, no no no no no, that name is far too plain! Please, call me the Dreamfinder,” he chuckled.
“Dream, finder,” Billy’s statement hinted at more of a question, as he was becoming more baffled, “What are you doing here?”
“Why, I am creating and searching, using my imagination!” he said with a twinkle in his eye, a twinkle usually reserved for paintings of Santa Claus.
“But Professor, I mean Dreamfinder, you said work on the imagination was garbage. You, you, you…,” Billy was at once, for the first time in his life, speechless.
“Billy, my boy, it was you who gave me the inspiration, that glimmer of something more. And I should thank you for it,” Dreamfinder said as he patted Billy on the shoulder, “Now then, I should be off.”
“Off, but wait! Dean, Dreamfinder, where are you going? What is this thing?” Billy’s uncertainty had been replaced with amazement.
“This is my creation, a dirigible if you will. I call it the Dream Vehicle, and this back here,” he said motioning to the large bulging sack connected to the rear, “is the Idea Bag. It is amazing what you can create with discarded ideas, innovative concepts, and a little digging.” To be honest, Billy thought the ‘Dream Vehicle’ looked more like a collection from the dumpster. He was sure there were pieces of a phonograph, portholes from some sailing vessel, old netting, a propeller, some oars, and a pressure cooker, and all of it seemed to be continually changing colors.
The Dreamfinder climbed up and into a chair mounted at the front of the device and began running his hands over the control panel. Slowly, and with much commotion, the Dream Vehicle began to lift into the sky. Racing towards the hovering craft, and shouting over the noise, Billy called to the Dreamfinder, “But where are you going?”
“Nowhere, everywhere, on a flight of fancy. I am going to search for anything that sparks the imagination and collect those ideas in the Idea Bag,” and with that he began humming a little tune to himself, slowly rising up into the air until he was a speck, and then gone.
Billy stood in the space that the Dream Vehicle had been occupying only minutes before, unable to move. Slowly, a smile filled with child-like wonder crept across his face, and he began to walk home, always looking to the sky and the stars beyond.