Do you see it?

If you’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) like I have, you know what I’m writing about. If not, here’s some insight into how our brains work.

I’m collecting environmental samples at work today, so I threw my gear into the back of our antique Chevy Suburban. We keep it in barely usable condition to show the public how carefully we watch after their dollars, and I’m always anxious about starting it. I turned the key and as soon as I heard the engine, I heard a faint, rhythmic squeak and wondered if a mama sandpiper built a nest underneath and was sitting on a clutch of chicks.

The more I listened, the more positive I was that something was amiss. The trick was outside an office and wondered if there might be a swallow’s nest atop an air conditioner. Did I anger mama by invading their space, and was she ready to dive-bomb the truck?

Whatever it was, I had to check it out.

I left the truck running, got out, and the peeping stopped. Ah, I thought, sandpiper chicks, silent now as they sensed my step. But to be thorough – every good scientist is thorough – I walked to the back of the truck, too, and scanned the office for air conditioners and birds. Nothing. But there it was again, sounding as if it came from inside the truck.

Great. What got tossed in here? Who knows when you’re collecting? Maybe a baby moccasin was caught in a water sampler? Do they squeal to mom for a finger or fish? I was worried. I lifted the door – nice and easy – and rummaged through Cubitainers and tubing and couldn’t find a thing, not even a mouse or kitten. Very weird because something here is still making noise. I heard it again, and this time saw a faint black skinny swish arc across my periphery. Shocked now, I stepped back to safety to survey the inside of the truck again.

Then – then! – I saw it and heard it again. I almost wish it was a baby cottonmouth with a mouse in its fangs, crying and squealing. It would have made a better story. Instead, it was something mundane and boring, like most mysteries. I waited until it happened again, and there it was: a wiper blade, dry rubber against a dry window, with the motor pushing it hard enough to chirp when it moved through its arc.

And that’s how it works. The brain hates a void and fills empty spaces with ideas that sound reasonable and trick you.

Thanks so much for reading. Can you think of someone who would like the post? Please mail it to them or share it with your favorite social media using one of the icons below. And won’t you follow me? You can do so in the sidebar. Thanks again and feel free to comment!