Walker Percy: Small disconnected facts have a way of becoming connected.
Cultivate a low-grade curiosity
Two years in the clink have taught me a thing or two.
I don’t have to be in a demonic hurry as I used to be.
I don’t have to plumb the depths of “modern man” as I used think I had to. Nor worry about “the human condition” and suchlike. My scale is smaller.
In prison I learned a certain detachment and cultivated a mild, low-grade curiosity. At one time I thought the world was going mad and that it was up to me to diagnose the madness and treat it. I became grandiose, even Faustian.
Prison does wonder for megalomania. Instead of striking pacts with the Devil to save the world—yes, I was nuts—I spent two years driving a tractor pulling a gang mower over sunny fairways and at night chatting with my fellow con men and watching reruns of Barnaby Jones.
Living a small life gave me leave to notice small things—like certain off-color spots in the St. Augustine grass which I correctly diagnosed as an early sign of chinch-bug infestation. Instead of saving the world, I saved the eighteen holes at Fort Pelham and felt surprisingly good about it.
Small disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.
–Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome (NY: Picador, 1987) 67
Image credit: Kirk Livingston