I am Don Quixote

11ABE7BK82Not the Don Quixote,
But definitely A Don Quixote.

On the backside of life.
I have accomplished little of note.
Obscure, unremarkable, unknown.
Yet I have dreams…
Impossibly bright, impossibly distant stars I have never come close to touching.

Quixote gives me hope,
Courage to keep dreaming, to keep reaching.
Quixote may have been crazy.
I don’t know. My opinion?
Decades of mere survival convinced him that reality wasn’t
All it was cracked up to be.

And so he donned his makeshift armor
Mounted his unimpressive steed
Found his muse in a common village girl and
Set out to live a life of raw, crackling adventure.

From a distance, he certainly seems mad.
Yet isn’t it Glorious Madness?

By the sheer power of his belief,
Quixote transformed and ennobled all he touched.
The common village girl became an Immortal Muse, Princess Dulcinea.
Windmills morphed into giants.
A mere donkey became a glorious Charger,
And a humble servant found himself squire to a great knight.

This life  of mine – closer to its end than its beginning – does not impress me.
And since my opinion is the only one that matters…

I wish that I had tilted at a few more windmills
That I had my own distant Dulcinea to whom I pledged my troth
That I had a nemesis with whom I jousted
And my very own Sancho Panza to shake his head in wonder at my folly.

I want to feel like I seized life by the collar, and shook it until the quarters fell out of its pockets.
(My god, it really is the things we don’t do that cause the most regret.)

I suspect Quixote regretted the pain of his wounds.
But did he regret his quest?

No.
No way.

He could not have regretted playing the fool…
Loving with a whole heart or
Riding into battle against a worthy foe.
Quixote he had a Star.
And a Star is – by definition – unreachable.

The beacon that taunted his quest also illumined his path.
(That’s some deep stuff right there.)

I mean, isn’t that Life?
This constant striving after something we never reach?
We desire so much more than we can grasp.
Even those who command great wealth
Yearn for something unnamed and unnameable.

If it is intrinsic to the soul of man
To yearn for more,
If unfulfilled yearning is our curse,
Then why not make it glorious?

Why not tempt death on the field of battle?
Why not endure terrible wounds from imaginary giants?
Why not make an utter fool of myself and be laughed at by sensible folk?
What difference will it make?
They will never touch their Stars either…

Does it pain them knowing their Star shines down, beckoning from above?
Or are they too dead inside to look up
To let their hearts be ravished by its beauty
And broken by its elusiveness?

I think I’d rather play the fool on a mule, tilting at windmills
Than be sensible and safe at home,
Never gazing in wonder and longing at the midnight sky.

I am Don Quixote.

How To Brain Hack Painful Memories

Choose The Past You Prefer

Hack Brain Fix Past

He caught pneumonia and it turned into tuberculosis. He was only 6 maybe 7 years old.
(I think I saw this story in The Rise of Superman…)
His family was too poor to pay for “normal” hospital, so they put him in the charity ward.
(This was before penicillin.)
Most of the kids in his ward died. He survived.
And later in life, he remembered that time as one of the best of his life.

What?
Yes!

He viewed it as an amazing experience.  He believed it made him mentally stronger.
His interpretation of the facts was different than we would normally expect.
But there was nothing wrong with his interpretation.

What does that mean for you?

You can rewrite your own history.

Facts Plus Interpretation Equals Memory

Do you find yourself trying to run away from your past, resolve your past, understand your past?
Try something different.
Revise and rewrite your past.

The brain can do that.

Facts are bare lifeless things devoid of meaning.
They are mere data points.

This person had sex with that person.
Those people no longer live together.
This person got a low score on that test.
That person took a job in another city.

How do we make a memory?
Data plus interpretation.
We take our own personal data points and then we apply to them a veneer of meaning: our own interpretation of the data points.

I am unlovable.
My life is over.
I am too stupid to succeed.
I am no good.
I am a victim.

True, our veneer of meaning does not change the raw facts.
On the other hand, the facts do not require a particular interpretation.
We get to choose our interpretation of the raw data as it applies to us.
That means…

You can apply any interpretation to your past that you choose.

Rewrite Your Past By Hacking Your Memory

So, starting right now, you can take every painful moment, every terrible mistake, every aching memory that still throbs with hurt and you can re-imagine them and reinterpret them.

Your past does not have to be painful.
Your memories do not have to be horrible.

Your memories are a combination of raw facts plus your own interpretation of those facts.
If your interpretation of the raw facts prolongs your pain, then change your interpretation.

You cannot change the raw facts.
You can, however, change your interpretation.

We cannot escape our experience of the moment.
Once the stimulus of the moment has ended though, we can go back into our own minds and rewrite the story with our own interpretation of the data.

Why allow that past moment to darken this present moment with pain or melancholy?
Why not paint it in new shades bursting with color and meaning rather than with toxic pain and loss?

You are here now.
You are alive and breathing.

In front of you? A world of opportunity.
Behind you? Raw data plus interpretation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing the interpretation I like best.