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My Mind Palace.

That sacred happy place I go to write.

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If you decide to take an IQ test, I recommend you don’t share the results with your friends, nor tell them where they can find the test.

I made this mistake, and soon a number of my friends (my wife included) had taken the test and triumphantly announced their score was significantly higher than mine. 

As the age-old advice goes: Never be the smartest person in the room. 

Of course, being the dumbest person in the room isn’t ideal either. 

*

There’s a filmmaking technique in the popular BBC series, Sherlock that shows us how Mr Holmes solves complicated riddles. 

Whenever he retreats into his mind to think through a problem, a flood of images, text, and math equations materialize before him in a swirl; he sifts through the piles of memories and equations, like a computer segmenting data. His hands beckon helpful imagery and push aside what’s irrelevant. 

Sherlock affectionately refers to this mental state as his “mind palace,” and he says it with a level of earned arrogance, too.

“Please be quiet, I’m in my mind palace.” 

*

Regardless of Sherlock Holmes’ astronomically high IQ, he’s also a fictional character, and I’m happy to steal his terminology, regardless of how dumb I am. 

I’m a writer, after all. I deserve my own mind-palace to go to whenever inspiration strikes. 

Okay, it’s not whenever it strikes — I have responsibilities as a husband and a father, after all.

Also, it’s more of a mind-bungalow.

*

6:12 am. 

I sit down at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee and think the thoughts of a writer. 

I stand at the gates of my mind-bungalow, dressed in my 16th-century renaissance outfit, topped with a Robin Hood hat with a big feather which I refer to as a “plume.” 

The quill pen in my hand calls out to the inkwell, the parchment paper, and to my creative genius:

“Write thine divine wisdom, you writer, you.”   

I’m really going to get on top of my book writing project this morning, I can feel it. 

The Persian, by Rembrandt Van Rijn, 1632.

A nearby door silently opens and I’m shot in the head with a nerf bullet — followed by the malevolent cackle of a 7-year-old. As he runs away, I shout something about keeping the freaking door closed and how I’m trying to work. 

He’s already in another room and has evoked the whining screeches of his 6-year-old brother and 4-year-old sister — new targets; weaklings against his evil schemes. 

I get up from my writer’s throne, leaving the warmth of my mind-bungalow to remind my subjects that I am the sovereign crown and they will surely fall beneath the wrath of my judgement should they wake their sleeping queen. 

It would be ideal if my sleeping queen got out of bed and kept her peasant serfs silent and in line, so the king could do his important work. 

When she does get out of bed, half an hour later, she opens the door to my mind-bungalow and lets in a cold breeze, while reminding me that it’s Wednesday today and I’d better not forget to take out the garbage, again. 

I smile and nod with glazed eyes. She can tell I’m in my mind-bungalow and haven’t registered a single thing she just said.

She repeats herself and then closes the freaking door.

In my mind-bungalow, time stands still.

In my real-life side-split-with-an-addition, it does not.

10:22 am. I hear the rumble of a garbage truck, and run outside in a panic — I can’t believe I forgot to take out the garbage, again.

The waste disposal man has even less respect for the ordained monarchy than my serfs do.

As my body rushes to drag two full stinking bags to the end of the driveway, my approaching-average-IQ-scoring-brain imagines a world where my servants take care of the garbage.

The king? He continues to write uninterrupted in his royal 3-bedroom mind-bungalow.

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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