Walls and Windmills

Even in the best of times, there is still uncertainty. The things we take for granted go away. The health we once enjoyed could take a turn for the worse. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was once a wealthy merchant until one day all that wealth was lost at sea. He was ruined financially. How many people would be able to recover from such a catastrophe? How many have jumped out of a skyscraper window or taken their lives because they lost it all? What did Zeno do? He went on to build one of the most influential philosophies the world has ever known.

The world goes through cycles. We, with the attitudes of gods, think we can stop it. Really? We cannot even stop our fellow humans from setting events into motion whose waves sweep across generations and through the centuries. Good or bad, the bad being the ones we remember the most, these changes illicit a response from us. How do you respond when the winds of change begin to blow?

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.

Chinese Proverb

The Walls. Some will hunker down. They will put up the shutters and try their best to ride out the storm. They will prep for the doom to come going into their fallout shelters with their stockpiles of food. These are the ones that will isolate themselves from the rest of the world. The walls keep them protected on the inside but blinds them to what is on the outside.

The Windmills. By building a windmill, you look at the opportunities that the change brings. Humans are resilient. They can adapt. They can learn to operate within the parameters. Whether the change comes from a broken government or an angry Mother called Nature, they bravely face the obstacles ahead. There may no longer be any rainbows and sunshine in their near future, but they will keep forging ahead with the hope of a better tomorrow for them and the ones to come after them.

Everything involves a choice. Zeno could have said that life no longer held any meaning. He could have built a wall separating himself from the rest of humanity. But he chose something else. He chose to rebuild his life and along the way created a legacy spanning across the millennia. And like him, we choose whether to adapt to the changes before us or to isolate behind the walls. One results in a future for the generations to come. And the other, well, it just ends.


Feature photo by Hendrik Kuterman on Unsplash

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