The Existential Don Quixote
I am no knight in titanium armor
pushing destiny's buttons with a mailed finger,
more a janitor of chance collisions
sweeping up debris.
As a toddler I would have petted
the snakes Hercules strangled—
and his reward? A poison shirt
woven from immortal jealousy.
I was never captain of my soul,
just a kite's dream of control,
a myth of wind, the string too thin
to see between the windmill blades.
(Published in the now defunct shallow end.)
This is my penultimate posting before the NBA Finals break.
Above the speaker no longer dwells upon the significance of his own chemically-induced sorrow, instead endorses entropy, admitting how little control he has over anything, including himself--a good therapeutic negotiation.
Hercules is used as an example; as the son of Zeus he did nearly everything right, and when he didn't, he repented and tried to make restitution. But that's not good enough for the gods; they are capricious. He died not in battle but by trickery, and a painful death it was. Ironically it was the blood of his own tutor, Chiron the centaur, that killed him, possibly because he did not follow his teacher's precepts as well as he might have--if one looks for a moral in the story.
If this is how a son of God was treated, how could I deserve anything better? Long-term the hard question is: If I were wrongly condemned to death and executed, would I still believe in the goodness of God? That's an easy "yes" for a believer. For the unbeliever I find it hard to understand optimism as derived from experience. "If mercy were based on evidence, I'd shoot you," I wrote in an earlier poem. If life sucks, why believe in anything better?
Jack London's Wolf Larsen declares man's individual ambition to be the ability to indulge in more "piggishness" than others. There is little to refute this in this world. "Steal a little and you go to jail, steal a lot and they make you king."
I'm sure I'm being too simplistic for enlightened humanists, but without a supernatural hope about the nature of the universe, morality is as much an impediment as anything else. From where do the agnostic majority derive hope? Radio gurus, self-help books, self-talk? Does it matter if such things are true or merely that they help?
I did read a great Arab proverb today: "If you ask a mule who his father was, he'll say, 'My mother was a horse.'" (from Wallace Stegner)