On Wednesday as I was walking to class, I saw two sulphur butterflies, flying along close together in front of me. I thought they were in mating flight. Then they paused --and suddenly shot straight up high above me, about 60 feet where they tussled. I then thought perhaps it was a fight and not a mating after all.
Then one flew off in one direction (west) while the other took the opposite way (east-- the "loser"?). The one flying off then came down to rest again nearby on the grass, and its companion wheeled and came down beside it. They mated. The one who had come down first, had picked the spot ...the female it seems, and the male came down and they joined for a moment in silence.
Then, finished, the male left and did not turn back. He went east again, continuing until I could not see him. The female studied the ground, carefully and slowly finding the place to lay her fertilized eggs. She was still looking as I made my way to class. I left her to her task, as the students would be waiting.
It reminded me of the mating flight of eagles. I did not know butterflies did such things as well. I don't know as much about insects as I should, I know.
Here I am, 50 years old, having paid attention to things all my life, yet here in a perfectly ordinary place, a school lawn, on a perfectly ordinary afternoon, I saw something I have never seen in all my 50 years. Perhaps I had seen it before. I had seen many sulphurs flying along together. But I had never stopped to watch the whole scene play out before. I had not been that patient before in this situation. And my reward-- I saw something new in a perfectly ordinary setting.
Last night, I watched David Brooks on Charlie Rose, who is working on a book on the mind. He talked about the major shift going on in brain research these days. But while previous periods of achievement in brain research have focused on conscious thought, this era is discovering new things in the subconscious.
The key is perception, not analysis. Do not overthink. Perceive completely, all senses, and deeply. Soak in the perceptions, do not analyze them yet. Then let your subconscious do its work of marinating all that perception. When it is time, the insights will emerge.
When you have a choice to make, if the choice is simple, column A or column B, sure, make a list and be logical. But if the situation is complex, such as what do I do with my life, should I marry "X" or what can we do to keep this nation from crashing and burning, just perceive deeply, be patient and put it away for your subconscious to sort out. Wait for the insight. be patient.
People think going on a vision quest is all about some big visionary experience, and acquisition of power from the Sun, Thunder, Bears or Buffalo. But the great Lakota man of knowledge Sitting Bull, in his first vision experience as a boy, had only a small bird come to him and say only: "Be attentive."
Pay attention to everything, soak it in like a sponge. Let your soul do the rest.