JOURNEY TO IXTLAN
part oneStopping the World
5. ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITY
Tuesday, 11 April 1961
Carlos describes meeting (Sunday April 9th) asks how don Juan knew of the falcon.
Don Juan: It was nothing. Anyone can see that you are strange, you are just numb that's all... Let's just say that I know all kinds of things because I don't feel more important than anything else, and because my death is sitting here right beside me.
Think of your death now. It is at arms length. It may tap you at any moment, so really you have no time for crappy thoughts and moods. None of us have any time for that.
Do you know what I did to you the first time we met. I saw you and I saw that you thought that you were lying to me. But you weren't, not really.
Don Juan said that explanations were not necessary and that the only thing that counted was action, acting instead of talking.
"What was wrong with you when I saw you and what is wrong with you now is that you do not take responsibility for your actions. When you were telling me those things you knew they were lies. When a man decides to do something he must go all the way. He must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them."
"I have no doubts or remorse. Everything I do is my decision and my responsibility. The simplest thing I do may well mean my death. Death is stalking me. Therefore I have no room for remorse. If I have to die as a result of something simple like taking you for a walk, then I must die. You on the other hand feel you are immortal, and the decisions of an immortal man can be cancelled or regretted or doubted. In a world where death is the hunter, my friend, there is no time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions."
Carlos thinks this is idealised and tells of his father's holiday 'phony' resolutions to get up for an early swim.
Don Juan: They were not phony resolutions. He just did not know how to get out of bed.
Carlos suggest that it would be more realistic to resolve to go swimming at three in the afternoon.
Don Juan: You're resolutions injure the spirit. He did not want to swim at three in the afternoon, don't you see?
Don Juan: Why didn't you go swimming at six in the morning in his place?
Carlos: It was my fathers business, not mine.
Don Juan: It was also your business from the moment you accepted his idea.
Carlos: You don't tell your father things like that. That was not done in my house that's all.
Don Juan: The only thing you never did was to shine your spirit. You have been complaining all your life because you don't assume responsibility for your decisions. If you would have assumed responsibility for your father's idea, you would have swum, by yourself if necessary, or you would have told him to go to hell. But you did not say anything, therefore you are as weak as your father. To assume responsibility of one's decisions means that one is ready to die for them. It does not matter what the decision is. Nothing could be more or less serious than anything else. Don't you see ? In a world where death is the hunter there are no small or big decisions. There are only decisions that we make in the face of our inevitable death.
Carlos: Why are you telling me all this?
Don Juan: You were brought to me and I have had a gesture with you. You could have had a gesture with your father but you didn't, perhaps because you were to young. I have lived longer than you. I have nothing pending. There is no hurry in my life, therefore I can properly have a gesture with you.
Don Juan tells the story of a young destitute who stumbles in the market on an old man with gourds he thinks are food and water. The old man takes him for a hike and lets him carry the gourds. He feeds him with food bought in the market and summons a spirit deer who he tells him can alleviate his sorrows and give him advice and wisdom about the ways of the world. All he has to do to have the deer as his wise friend is to let go of the gourds. The suspicious young man takes the gourds believing them to filled with greater power. He is angry and remorseful when he finds only food and water. Don Juan explains that this is because he did not take responsibility for his decision. Had he been aware of this then he would have taken the food and been more than satisfied with it. He might even of realised that the food was power too.