Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, fluttering about happily, completely forgetting he was Chou. Soon he awoke, and was very much Chou again. Was Chou dreaming he was a butterfly, or was a butterfly dreaming he was Chou? –Chuang-tse
When I was a child, before video games were invented, I spent hours and hours playing with my marble collection. I remember them vividly from those long afternoons when I was deeply absorbed in the stories I created around my marbles. Since they were all unique, the remnants of old Christmas gifts and board games, or plucked one at a time, as a special treat, from my father’s 1940s marbles that he’d won in games with his playmates, I was able to invest each one with its own personality and its own relationships to the other marbles. They were my friends.
One day when I was perhaps seven or eight, I took out my box of marbles and discovered a large, clear marble that I’d never seen before. To this day I don’t know how it got there: it wasn’t from my father’s collection, nor can I remember having found it. Maybe it had been there all along and somehow slipped my attention. But from that day that I first noticed it, it held an increasing fascination for me. I integrated it into my games, joining it into my marble society as a kind of respected outsider. It was the most special marble of all, too special even to be their king, much less to occupy any lesser role.