Wednesday pondering – on windmills

193080_1180812449_largeOne of the most wonderful pieces of literature, in my humble opinion, is Cervantes’ “Don Quixote de la Mancha”. And one of the reasons why I say this, is because of the windmill scene (duuuh, what did you expect with a pondering title like the one above?!).

I decided to talk about this today because during the past few days many things around me unfolded under the sign of the windmill – events spiced with pointlessness, on apparently aimless trajectories. And as it always happens in cases like this, I began to doubt my reasons to keep fighting for them. We all have windmills of our own, against which we desperately fight, at least as long as we believe them to be “ferocious giants” – a fight can be pleasant when we think we fight against a worthy adversary, for a justified reason. But when the adversary or the reason or both of them prove to be a mockery, what do you do? What happens when we realize that what we have in front of us is not something that would retaliate in a properly expectable way? What happens when the proverbial windmill tries one too many times our patience?

Don Quixote believed in his cause with all his soul, ignoring the reality as perceived by those around him and simply followed his own vision. Maybe it’s idiotic, or hilarious, or both, this loyalty towards his beliefs. I, however, find it to be wonderful, because it’s truly a marvelous thing to be able to focus on your goal so well that the path would lie in front of you so clearly simple. From this perspective, Don Quixote was THE dreamer.

But as it happens with all dreamers, waking up from his idealistic dream into the insipid, colorless and inodorous reality as seen and created by those around him, proved to be a fatal act, because he couldn’t find again the path towards his dream, and he got stuck in the mud of a much too anemic life thread. Such a change in the point of view is never pleasant. And I myself confess to have experienced it more than just once. It made me want to give up on dreams, and people, and situations, and to question my reasons for choosing that path in the first place.

But then I remembered Poe’s famous lines

“Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?”

and wondered if, after all, it would be such a bad thing for one to close his eyes and simply pretend that the giant was still in front of him, if that is what it would take for a goal to be achieved. And then it hit me: the windmill never mattered anyway: what truly mattered, both in Don Quixote’s case and in mine and in anyone else’s, was the dream. The goal. You may have to face ferocious giants or stubborn patience-eating windmills in your path, but if you have enough faith in your goal, those will never stand in your way for too long. And when you’ll reach your dream, you’ll see that their purpose was merely the one of making you stronger.

© 2013 Liliana Negoi

This note is dedicated to Raluca, my dear friend, and her own windmills :). Have faith little one!


The text is mine, the image was taken from copyright © Fabricio Moraes, 02 June 2007

2 Responses to “Wednesday pondering – on windmills”
  1. Is life inherently meaningful and worth living (even the life of an invalid), or are worth and meaning added to life by how it’s lived (which is a cultural matter)? There are points when people feel their life is worthless, but what absence or what inability to add what thing/things in life has made that life worthless? Well, these questions (triggered by “goal”/aim in life in the post–yes there is a lot to discuss here) point to some other direction different than what my comment proceeds toward.

    The concepts of reality are so mysterious and varied that one’s reality feels unreal to many. Every mentally ill patient has his/her own sense of reality, and he/she live that reality. The fact that they are ill and their pathological mental condition is not the ideal or “normal” standard of mental health cannot discount the reality of the patients as psychotic hallucinations because their imaginations chemically happen in their brains and these images drive them physically into palpable actions with results tangible to both the patients themselves and to us “normal” people.

    If you run in sleep, your heart physically beats faster, which is real. If you cry in a dream, your lachrymal glands chemically secrete the liquid we call tear, and it physically wets your eyes, and pillow. We do not see what’s happening in the head of the person sleeping beside us, sharing the same pillow with us–it may seem to us that he/she is sleeping soundly, calmly, but he/she may be having a nightmare, which is real and can cause physical changes to the body of the person. Yes, nightmares can kill people. The experience of nightmare is real to people who have it, but not so to the rest of us, except that it indirectly affects us when the person has caused something tangible like death and paralysis, etc.

    Reality is a mysterious thing/concept, and the majority’s conceptualization of it at most times carries the vote, and many dreamers end up becoming Don Quixote. Thomas Nash had already been a changed person when woke up from his terrible schizophrenia, metamorphosed by it.

    Well, all this may be a different thing altogether from the post. What I wanted to say is, all realities are real–all of them. Some realities we like, some we don’t, depending on person to person. Our business is to shift the senses/concepts of reality which we live and with which we identify ourselves. Identity is nothing but the set of realities one embraces to live. So, if one reality turns out to be damaging, it may be better that we embrace other realities. This is life-changing.

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