At certain point, you accept the consequences of who you are or try something else.

Philosophy and literature are always pointing to the latter option, a “second sailing” as Socrates says in the Republic—the chance we give ourselves. Socrates the barefoot soldier becomes Socrates the barefoot philosopher, convincing the men he speaks with that their understanding of the world is built upon shadows. To live  true lives, they must acknowledge the uncertainty of what they think they know.

Of course, not everyone wants that scraped-bone life, however true. Instead, they moor their second sailing on shadows. Don Quixote the old man becomes Don Quixote de la Mancha the great knight, and when there are no convenient villains to chase, he attacks a procession of pilgrims. They barely sleep in that book. Don Quixote’s squire, Sancho, complains about it. But when he does sleep, Sancho dreams that the world is a mustard seed and the men upon it are hazelnuts. Sancho’s sleeping mind believes that men are larger than the world—perhaps because men dream of the world, and the world does not dream of men. In that book, at least, the dreamers are always bigger than the dream.

A second sailing requires great imagination and even greater unhappiness, and the measure of its success or failure is hard to identify, because it depends upon what matters to you—has the experience made you happier/healthier/kinder/more loved/richer in spirit/richer in things? In his second sailing, Socrates became a more contemplative person. Don Quixote, in the end, became a better friend. The act of writing is itself a second chance, and most writers need one. I’m no exception. And perhaps through writing down where I am, I’ll be able to move forward more gracefully. All I can say is that, more and more, I admire people who try.