So many hats a man can wear. So many things a man can do. Merciful gods, what I’ve done…
I seem to recall being a detective once, a decorated member of the city watch. I was also a professor, a doctor of obscure sciences, an antiquarian and a historian. I had foreseen my life being spent amidst books and libraries and dusty shelves full of antiquities, not galavanting around like a foolish adventurer, doing deeds that the poets would regale. I would write my dissertations and record my histories and smoke my pipe.
It is one thing to write as a poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth. The truth is a harsh mistress, one that most seek to escape by delusion and addiction all too often. But even though the truth may be stretched thin, it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.
It was so very long ago, that life. A distant and fading thing, like the memory of a dream. Or is my present the dream? I’m a gunslinger, nay a paladin with pistols…and a sea captain that sails to exotic lands. I was a fey from Alfheim, but of late I seem more human with each passing day. I recall being versed in the arcane, but that too fades into obscure memory as my present roils and churns forward.
To think that the affairs of this life always remain in the same state is a vain presumption; indeed they all seem to be perpetually changing and moving in a circular course. Spring is followed by summer, summer by autumn, and autumn by winter, which is again followed by spring, and so time continues its everlasting round. But the life of man is ever racing to its end, swifter than time itself, without hope of renewal, unless in the next that is limitless and infinite.
I think I suffered from madness once. But when life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be.
I was a sibling, now alone. I’ve killed, I’ve preserved life. There has been so much ill fortune. It’s up to brave hearts, I suppose, to be patient when things are going badly, as well as being happy when they’re going well … For I’ve heard that what they call fortune is a flighty woman who drinks too much, and, what’s more, she’s blind, so she can’t see what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know who she’s knocking over or who she’s raising up.
I know not what I am anymore, nor what hat I shall wear – I know only what I must do.
I must ride into battle against yon windmills.
“Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth."
“What giants?” Asked Sancho Panza.
“The ones you can see over there,” answered his master, “with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.”
“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”
“Obviously,” replied Don Quijote, "you don’t know much about adventures.”