With thanks to BurntSienna for putting some of my recent thoughts into some kind of context. I particularly appreciated this passage from Don Quixote:
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”
“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”
“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record
Whilst I could, and never would, never presume to liken my windmills to those which out dear friend at Both Sides Now faces, I think we can all relate to some extent. Well, I know I can.
This was brought home to me by one of those questions that DJs on the radio sometimes ask,
“If you could be 20 again, would you take the chance?”
Having thought about it for a while, I realised that I wouldn’t. Whilst I would love to have the energy I had back then, and the relative lack of responsibility, I do not think I could face the last 18 years again. Don’t get me wrong, those years have made me who I am, and I do not think I would change a thing. But that is the whole point. If I were to go back to being 20, I would face losing the accumulated experiences of my 20s and almost all of my 30s (eek). Either that, or I would put my 38 year old mind in a 20 year old body, and be stunned and frustrated by the naivety of those of the same physical age as me (depending on the parameters of the ‘going back to 20’ deal). Whatever the case, it would not work.
Having thought on that for a while, I realised that what I really want is to keep the years of experience, but not at the expense of physical health and that sense of freedom many have in their early 20s. It then hit me that the way to obtain this is not by going backwards, but forwards. Forwards, beyond the confines of this earthly life, to the life beyond. Seeing things that way helps to put things in perspective, and sort out the windmills from the giants.
In the end, the struggles and frustrations of this life might be giants…
…but they are generally just windmills.
Thanks again to BurntSienna for helping me realise this. 🙂