Tilting at Windmills

A year full of tilting at windmills.
Enemies imagined, a knight-errant schooled in chivalry
that no longer exists and a need
to withstand suffering, accept reality principles
discard idealistic, romantic, heroic, ideas about dying.

Poor Don Quixote – born into the lowest nobility in La Mancha, he has read so many chivalric romances that he either loses or pretends to have lost his mind. He becomes a caballero andante and wants to revive chivalry. He rides under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.

He does attack a windmill and “tilting at windmills” became an English idiom that means “attacking imaginary enemies.” In Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, these confrontations are not always against windmills but are ones where he has misinterpreted or misapplied his romantic notions. These largely inopportune, unfounded, and vain efforts against adversaries real or imagined eventually lead him to what Freud called the reality principle – that one must battle to withstand suffering but accept the reality of death.

I suppose this sounds like quite a pessimistic poem for a New Year’s Eve, but do you see the optimism in it too?

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