Given that my ten-week journey was undertaken over ten years ago, and given that it did NOT in any obvious way, “ignite a national conversation,” I can look back and say now that by any ordinary measure, that journey was entirely quixotic.
Ah yes. Don Quixote!
I never did read the book, but just now read parts of the plot, including the ending, where Don Quixote, on his deathbed, renounces his imagination and all the foolish adventures it led him into.
Reminds me of my 96-year-old Dad, who, on his deathbed, renounced his lifelong saintly allegiance to a figment of his own imagination: the Roman Catholic Church.
And it reminds me of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, late in life, renounced his early, black/white, positivistic, dot-identifying-and-connecting philosophical work, Logico Tractatus-Philosophicus, only to reimagine our “knowledge” of “reality” in terms of “language games,” the substantiality — or ephemerality — of which he pronounced:
So where am I going in this piece? Well, back to Don Quixote, and my foolish adventure over ten years ago, to “ignite a conversation that we still need to have” — over ten years later!
And do I now renounce my quest? Far from it. In fact, given that in my new post-AKID reality, I now turn back to re-imagine all that has gone before, the twistings and turnings of 75 years of a self-styled “experimental” life, I now revisit that old ten week journey and say YES to it, to the quest, yet unfulfilled, and yet, in my eternally resurrecting imagination, still to be realized! Yes! I am that foolish.
Indeed, I’m reminded of our Green Acres Village Community Dinner (just us who live here this week) last night. I was conversing with Lee, a sweet, hard-working WOOFER who has been visiting for the past two days.
When he told me that he had studied philosophy and religious studies for two years here at Indiana University, someone else then asked, “Do you believe in God?”
“I’m an agnostic atheist,”he replied.”
“Huh?” I responded? “But if you’re an atheist then you can’t be agnostic.”
“Yes I can,” he replied. “I just mean that until I have evidence of the fact that God exists, I will continue as an atheist.”
To which I replied, “Until you have an experience in which you are changed, you will continue as an atheist.”
No, he repeated. “Until I have evidence.”
No, I repeated. “Until you have an experience where you are changed.”
I tried another tack. “As an atheist, does that mean that the universe is ‘random,’ without meaning?”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he replied, diplomatically. “I’m not trying to discount the meaning that you find. I’m just saying that I need evidence in order to believe.”
(Evidence: empirical, presumably: “Real.” Shades of the early, positivist Wittgenstein!)
“Ah, but I agree with you!” I responded. “I feel that meaning is created by us, that this is how meaning enters the world, through human imagination and creativity.”
That was the end of the conversation. I wonder what he took away from it.
The point is, I do not renounce the imagination of yesteryear that prompted me to my quixotic quest. Indeed, I seek to reinvigorate that quest, no matter the result, now. And I feel, if everyone did this, followed their imagination where it may lead, no matter what; if all of us felt free to feel foolish in the world’s eyes as we seek, in our own quixotic way, to serve the whole, then the present stuck conflicting linear timelines towards destruction and war and extinction would be obliterated in one massive, explosive burst of human creativity such that the world has ever seen.
Indeed, I would even dare us to go so far as to reimagine the meaning of the nuclear blast, as an explosion, not for destruction, but for the protean creation that each of us, when fully empowered to be and tell and manifest our beautifully unique natures, will contribute to a never-before-seen cultural and spiritual transformation so astonishing that historians will one day look back upon it as utterly, divinely, miraculous.
Yes. A brand new beginning, here on planet Earth. Our children, and our children’s children, will cry with gratitude. Even the ETs will be proud of us. The Solar system will be applauding. The Milky Way will rejoice and the galaxies beyond and within explode with laughter and joy.