Tilting at Windmills

Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.

I wonder whether I am guilty of “tilting at windmills“.

A kind friend told me today that she had spent many hours reading my posts and was at a loss to know how to describe them, other than as a “diary”.  My diary, my thoughts.  I felt a little uncomfortable at that but had to realise she was probably right. It made me feel rather exposed, somewhat uneasy.

I am shaking my fist at the universe.  Confronting an imaginary enemy, pursuing a vain goal, searching for ideals, looking for justification, betterment.  For me, for everyone perhaps.  I am really not too sure.

I look around and I see such divide and unhappiness.  I wonder whether it need always be thus, whilst reminding myself that it always has been.

I am neither religious nor altruistic. More of a hermit than anything else and yet I find there are things I want to say. Even if I am baying at the moon.

I am sure things need not be what they are and yet I find myself so puzzled and disturbed that at every level of society strife and conflict seem inevitable.

It is just very difficult to get on with each other.  I find people very difficult and I am not the most competitive of souls.  How much more damaging could I have been had I been more grasping, dramatically successful, driven, determined to enforce my will, my aims.

So the windmills I am tilting at are the ills of the world, whether perceived only by myself or real and objective.

I would say to my friend: these are simply my thoughts on life.  My thoughts on how to combat my own destructive emotions.  My thoughts on what is important to me and the many, many things that are not.

To quote the Tao Te Ching:

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.

(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)

Who knows, some may find my ramblings helpful, many will not.  Perhaps this is a diary after all.

Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.
Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré.

4 Comments

    1. I am not at all sure that “distractions” is the right expression. In a sense you must be correct since I have never “arrived”, never found whatever it is I am seeking. “The Peace which the World cannot Give” to quote the Book of Common Prayer. And yet it is better to seek and to question than to remain static. Better to seek and not find than not to seek. In your case the best route turned out to be not to seek at all. In my case not seeking would be unlikely to lead very far.

      1. Applying a spiritual wisdom tradition to your case, I’d suggest the nexus of your existence, your passion, is Seeking. Is being human distracting you from your destiny, unsettling you? The good news is, Destiny prevails. It is planted in you – “That which you seek seeks you.” Seeking is your personal and only vocation. Nothing else will ever settle you, fulfill you.

        “It’s hard for you to kick against the pricks” – to quote another tradition. Like it or not, I feel you are called but ensnared by your culture, talents emotions and attributes. Yet the Seeking passion is not compatible to the merely human. The body and brain and all their human culture and accretions eventually die. The eternal in your life, your passion, your vocation, is not human. The good news is, some time in eternity we all pop out the chrysalis. Some Sufi traditons reckon there are no failures and this is already happening.

        I can only speak from my own experiences. I hope they helps yours.

        Keith.

        1. Wonderful words, Keith, and thank you. I too have a gut feeling that the life of an every day human is “distracting”. Indeed the very possession of a physical body is an irksome annoyance. Hence of course my fascination with the Minds and the Elders written about by Iain M Banks in his Culture series.

          Whether there is more or not is a question I often ask myself. I veer from believing in the physical only to something a little more ethereal. And yet I do not think that “physics” will ultimately prove to be just what we can sense around us. 11 dimensions, parallel universes and other such wonders. There is probably room for what some would call “spiritual” for want of a better word. In any event thank you for reading my drivel and thank you for your comments.
          A

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