How to Stop Tilting at Windmills


“About a month after she got sick, Lyla looked at Kacky, she said, ‘Mommy, how come you’re not running anymore?’  Kacky said, ‘Well, we’re busy, things change.’  Lyla said to her, ‘Mommy, I want you to run.’ She knows how important it is, it’s the one thing her mom loves and she saw her mom giving it up.  We’ve all made an effort to run with Kacky whenever she can run:  if it’s not during the day, we’ll run at night, we’ll run at 6 a.m. Of course Kacky would have wanted to be at the Ragnar with us, but knowing we were all doing this made her feel so much better, that we didn’t give it up,” Kim said.

Passage taken from the Wilton Patch article:


There are people with more money, with water views.  There are skinny women, proclaiming war against carbohydrates. 

There are mothers of preschoolers within earshot at the coffee shop, exasperated, comparing the US education system to India’s–We are way behind!–choosing the kindergarten paths which they believe will lead their children directly to the Ivy League. 

There is politics, name-calling, immediate judgement when we meet a republican, when we meet a democrat

There are people who like your kid.  There are people who don’t. 

Your new refrigerator drawer doesn’t hold as many vegetables as your old one.  No matter how many roofers come, dragging ladders behind them, clattering a while on top of your house, when it rains hard, new ceiling marks appear.

The bannister jets out in such a way that once more, in trying to avoid its reach, you scrape the laundry basket against that same wall leading into the basement, and you will again. 

You are anxious.  You are worried. You are behind.  You are disconnected.  It is raining again. 

Stop tilting at windmills.

When my dad came home as a kid, complaining about a friend who’d done him wrong or something else equally as trivial, my Grandma Regan would tell him–you’re tilting at windmills.  Now that he’s a college professor and teaches Cervantes’ Don Quixote, he knows the reference, but at the time he said to his mother, “Huh?”

She explained further: he was fighting monsters that were not there. 

Don Quixote jousted with windmills, believing them to be giants.  He created imaginary enemies.

There is a little girl named Lyla.  She is the five-year old daughter of my dear friend Kim’s dear friend.  Lyla is fighting stage IV neoroblastoma.  Cancer, a real enemy.  The monster that seems to be everywhere these days–invading and disrupting lives of friends, of neighbors, of children. 

It’s hard–at least for me–when I hear the word “cancer” not to feel defeated already, like a madman, armed with rusty weapons, setting out on top of some old horse on an already-determined adventure.  Cancer took my mom.  It is ugly and powerful.

But, my friend Kim reminded me today about the power of love and community. 

She and her friends ran the Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod in honor of little Lyla.  Theirs was an all-women team from Wilton and because of the power of community, five other women’s teams from Wilton ran in honor of Lyla. 

There are fundraisers.  There are events. 

Please, take a look at Lyla’s web page:

There are real battles to win.

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