Ask Cervantes: How can I accept change?



Dear Cervantes,

I went to visit my niece at the rodeo today, and I was overcome by the fact that she has become a tremendous person in her own right, and that the notions of her I had in my head were completely wrong, and by that notion as well, that I am a terrible uncle. What can I do to help myself understand that people change? And to accept that I might have missed it completely?

Sincerely, They All Are Passing Me By

Ask Cervantes: Thinking that this life and its things will never change and last forever is shithouse thinking; get it together and realize that it’s all the other way round, I say: spring follows summer, summer that weird in-between season, that one the fall, fall the winter, that’s how time’s wheel keeps on rolling; only humans get to the end a long ways before time except in the other life, the one that stretches on forever.” Thus spake Cide Hamete, Moorish philospher, because you know, it doesn’t take a true believer to understand the fragility and shakiness of life, and how long that next one’s gonna stretch out; but what I’m really talking about here, if you want to get serious, is how fast Sancho’s governorship finished, was eaten, the bones were broke, and it disappeared into the smoke and shadow.

Note on Ask Cervantes: The above  dd not a very literal, nor probably a very literary translation. I might have used either the recent Grossman translation or the older standard one I got off of iBooks for free, but I found them both lacking in ways. This is my interpretation of the following passage, with so many warts I’m sure I can’t smell them all:

“Pensar que en esta vida las cosas della han de durar siempre en un estado es pensar en lo escusado; antes parece que ella anda todo en redondo, digo, a la redonda: la primavera sigue al verano, el verano al estío, el estío al otoño, y el otoño al invierno, y el invierno a la primavera, y así torna a andarse el tiempo con esta rueda continua; sola la vida humana corre a su fin ligera más que el tiempo, sin esperar renovarse si no es en la otra, que no tiene términos que la limiten”. Esto dice Cide Hamete, filósofo mahomético; porque esto de entender la ligereza e instabilidad de la vida presente, y de la duración de la eterna que se espera, muchos sin lumbre de fe, sino con la luz natural, lo han entendido; pero aquí, nuestro autor lo dice por la presteza con que se acabó, se consumió, se deshizo, se fue como en sombra y humo el gobierno de Sancho.” (Don Quixote, part 2, chapter 53)

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Ask Cervantes

Tonight’s question:

What should I do when life gets me down?

“… he who’s down one day can be up the next, unless he really wants to stay in bed, that is…”

― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Via goodreads (no attribution but seems to be a common quote)

About Ask Cervantes: I don’t claim to be an expert, but I admire Cervantes above all authors. Fuck Hemingway’s bravado, Cervantes was the shit. He lost an arm in the most biggest battle of his age, Lepanto. He spent time in a Moorish prison and debtor’s prison. He might have been part Jewish (not long after the Jews had been expelled from Spain), and even if not he was definitely an outsider. Likely little of his work would have ever seen the light of day if it weren’t for wealthy benefactors. And he gave the world so much: don Quixote and Sancho Panza, but also Dulcinea and Rocinantes, Ciprion and Berganza, so much more. He didn’t just invent stories; he built modern consciousness. My friend, if you want to really write look at Cervantes. So tonight I’m launching the Cervantes advice column: Ask Cervantes. If you have a question for Cervantes, let me know!