I saw a dragon fly and I wondered what it was

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In A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Don Juan tells Carlos that he [Carlos] “is a serious person” and his “seriousness is attached to what” he does, “not to what goes on outside” of himself. “You dwell upon yourself too much. That’s the trouble. And that produces a terrible fatigue,” Don Juan tells Carlos.

A fatigue that I know all too well. You see, I spend a disproportionate amount of time in my head thinking about self, not myself.

Self-help.

Self-development.

Self-improvement.

Self-actualisation.

Self. Self. Self. A self that is a self that’s not myself. It’s a Zen koan I’ve been trying to answer for years. “Who are you between two thoughts?” And “Who’s the who doing the thinking?”

The danger, of course, is that you miss everything else around you. As Don Juan warns, “You will get tired of looking at yourself alone, and that fatigue will make you deaf and blind to everything else.”

The way is to play.

“To seek and see the marvels all around you.”

When was the last time you looked at a tree with sheer awe and wonder?

I saw a dragonfly in the fields not long ago. And I wondered what it must have been like to see a dragonfly for the first time before a dragonfly had a name – before science identified, clarified and classified this marvelous creature and reduced it to a mere insect.

My other-self wants to ask, ‘who has time to wonder any more?’ That’s the realm of 4-year-olds. Adults have deadlines to meet.


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