The Astrologer Who Fell Into A Wishing Well

This story is number 40 on the Perry Index.

“An Astronomer used to walk out every night to gaze upon the stars. It happened one night that, with his whole thoughts rapt up in the skies, he fell into a well. One who heard his cries ran up to him, and said:

“While you are trying to pry into the mysteries of heaven, you overlook the common objects under your feet.”

Morale: We should never look so high as to miss seeing the things that are around us. (Aesop’s fables)

Morale: ‘Mind your own business’ – Samuel Croxall

Morale:  ‘How can you understand the world without knowing yourself first?’- Gabriele Faerno

Morale:  ‘Let the astrologer beware of predicting anything. For the imposter will fall headlong, so long as he flies above the stars.’- Andrea Alciato

Morale: ‘Let, for want of due repair,A real house fall down,To build a castle in the air?’ – Charles Denis

Morale: “To an astrologer who fell
Plump to the bottom of a well,
‘Poor blockhead!’ cried a passer-by,
‘Not see your feet, and read the sky?'”- Fontaine

The unfortunate man who fell into the well was none other than Thales of Miletus, who was said to have entertained the idea that

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.’  

He is not by far the only person to have voiced this concern!

“The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.”– Julien Green

“‘Know thyself?’ If I knew myself, I’d run away.”– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”– Mark Twain

“One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.”– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”– Henry David Thoreau

So why do human beings prefer to spend countless hours attempting to understand the world around them and not themselves?

I am of the opinion it is because we are always changing and our personalities are in flux adapting to each scenario based on who we want to become, whereas certain truths about the world do remain constant… such as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Also, the motivation for wanting to become a certain type of person could be owing to the values taught to us by society.

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”– George Moore

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”– St. Augustine

“All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”– James Thurber

If we’re too preoccupied by trying to find out who we are and understand the world around us, we’ll forget what it’s like to enjoy the simple things in life. To take it all in one step at a time, and to find joy in the things we do comprehend. That is not to say that we should not get out of our comfort zones, rather life is not a jigsaw puzzle meant to be put together, it is an abstract painting and the beauty of it lies in its incomprehensibility.


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