Why do words pop into our heads unprovoked? As I lay by the pool on a dark Fourth of July, “troglodyte,” for no reason, shot into my mind with a mountain of depth and seemingly personal historic meaning behind it. I had heard the word many times in the past and had most definitely, though temporarily, known it’s meaning at one time. But now, as little insects and faunal debris skimmed across the top of the pool surface, I couldn’t reckon it’s definition. But there was something behind the word that made its way through my mind over and over as I stared up at the sky, a warrior of the wasted day.
I felt as though the meaning, whatever it was, was being held up by countless generations of struggling humanity. That’s a strange thing to feel for no reason. There was a beast below the surface of the word and as I lay by the pool, my whole attitude, my whole perception of the day, changed. My footsteps were now troglodyte. My breath was troglodyte. The way I spoke was troglodyte. I had to accept this and I was more than willing.
Inside, I found my phone and looked up the word. Reading the several definitions was pleasing as I confirmed to myself that I had once known at least one. Beyond that, the definition was a confirmation of the feeling that had arrived with the word. The prehistory of everything before had skirted in on the breath of that word sent to me by some man lost in time. An un-speaking man. A man who’s existence I can only suppose. I was now troglodyte. And now I could start to live.