Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Go ahead, Tilt at the Windmills

What can be learned from Don Quixote? Yes, the supposedly insane Spanish knight who famously jousted with a windmill thinking it was a giant. The idea that true happiness can be found in two simple words—those will be revealed later, I promise. At the end of this essay, hopefully Don Quixote won't look so insane.

People today are faced with a multitude of depressing situations. I could start a pythonic list that would drone on and on, but I won't. Earth isn’t exactly in what you would call an ideal situation, and this situation is exactly what gives way to quixotic pleasure of the impossible dream. My argument for happiness is that one should constantly tilt at windmills and chase the impossible dream. This constant movement forward seems to confirm and defy the opinion of fellow writer, Adarsh. My argument is that if you set your goal so far away yet somehow seemingly obtainable then you can’t be disappointed because you won’t ever be disheartened. Don Quixote becomes important because he serves as the epitome of such a lifestyle. To the reader, Don Quixote experiences more joy in the frivolous activities of pretending to be a knight-errant than managing an estate and ordering around servants. What is wrong with that? A man who chases his Impossible Dream is something that should be admired. Take for instance the scene with the windmills “Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth."
"What giants?" Asked Sancho Panza.
"The ones you can see over there," answered his master, "with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long."
"Now look, your grace," said Sancho, "what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone."
"Obviously," replied Don Quixote, "you don't know much about adventures.”

The idea of living like Don Quixote comes with a good deal of fighting societal norms. Who wants to be a conformist anyway? Think of all the great innovators in history, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and the like. They destroyed corporate culture as it was known at the time. Both fought society and both won. For many at the time their actions and attitude would have seemed very quixotic. It is, however, this very idea that makes the life of Don Quixote one worth living. Gates and Jobs were and are the titans of the information age, yet they chased a dream that twenty years prior seemed absurd.

We live, we die, and regardless of how you feel about the afterlife there is something to be said for living life to its fullest. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Put yourself at your own funeral; what do you want people to say?
The life led without inhibitions is the most successful by any measure. The lack of inhibitions will allow one's ambitions to be more prevalent. Ambitions to drive forward, to chase the impossible dream, will lead to higher quality of life, or at least more fun. At the end of the day, I would take being happy over being well off. I’m confident that most people are the same way.

Chasing the impossible dream will bud in all sorts of serendipitous ways; one only needs to read Don Quixote to observe that he enjoys his adventures. Now, you don’t have to go out and actually tilt at windmills to find the same sort of fulfillment, but the idea is all the same. Go ahead, form that micronation. It'll never be recognized, but you'll enjoy yourself along the way. I mean, why not?

Why not?

-Grant Silverman


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