Don Quixote
Then and Now

Let's be honest, some of my readers do not accept my assertion that objects around my home talk to me.  When I told my five-year old grandson, Jack, that the Tibetan cabinet and I talked one evening, he dissed that notion by saying that the cabinet did not have a mouth.  Well, I dearly love Jack, but that cabinet and many other things scattered around my home have chatted with me in a very real way.  Trust me.

I was grading a couple dozen term papers online one afternoon in my home office.  I read them and write comments to my students about their papers.  It is a very time consuming task but well worth it.  Somewhere in the middle of the grading process, a voice from behind me called out, "Allen."  I turned my desk chair around to the bookshelf behind me to discover which object had called my name.

Description: G:\DCIM\368CANON\IMG_6812.JPG

I looked but did not know what object had mentioned my name.  Finally, the voice returned, "Hey, I'm up here.  I am the picture of Don Quixote, the Man of La Mancha.  I am the pen and ink drawing that you framed a couple of decades ago."  So it was.  I brought the picture down to my desk and chatted with it for over an hour. 

We talked about the importance of the picture to me personally.  The picture began with a question, "Do you know why you have me in your home?"  I told the picture that all three of my children love traveling especially overseas as I do.  Each of them has traveled abroad after graduating from college or graduate school.  Kristin went to Spain.  When she left, I asked her to bring back a picture of Don Quixote from Spain. 

The picture restated its question, "But why do you have a pen and ink drawing of me.  Why me?"  I said that Don Quixote is just one of my favorite stories and characters in literature.


The picture continued its questioning.  "And what is it that makes Don Quixote so significant to you?"  I responded that I admired his determination.  Don Quixote was a dreamer, but that he did more than merely dream.  He acted.  He went out into the world to fight the good fight.  I told the picture that I admired this scene from Man of La Mancha. It emulated what Don Quixote was as a man.

"The Impossible Dream"

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

The picture replied, "I know that.  You have watched that video many times over the years.  In fact, you watched that video in the past couple of weeks.  What is behind that drive of yours?"

My answer was that much of it goes back to moving from an average school system where I was above average to the 19th best school system in the country.  That change created a negative feeling within me about what I was able to accomplish in school.  I tried and tried to regain my position of seeing myself as an above average thinker.  It took half my life to realize that I was not dumb. 

"I know all about that.  I have watched you for over the past two decades.  Failure is a bitter pill for you to face; isn't it?"  I agreed with the picture.  Moving from Pennsauken, NJ to Mt. Lebanon, PA taught me mistakenly that I was both dumb and poor.  "Mt. Lebanon was a golden ghetto educationally and also financially.  Hence, I had two strikes against me.  Therefore, it hurt me to feel dumb or poor."

The picture continued, "That does explain your drive and determination; you just don't want to relive the years of feeling that way."  I agreed, but the picture continued.  "Is there anything else that motivates you?" 

"I danced with death a couple of times in the past several years.  Death awakened me to living.  I would not delete either dance from my life.  I benefitted from both times that death attempted to lead me while we danced."

Description: G:\DCIM\368CANON\IMG_6823.JPG

The picture of Don Quixote retorted, "I have seen that in you; it added drive to a person already in fourth gear.  However, I still do not grasp while Don Quixote ties into what you call your modus operandi?"

I paused to recalibrate both the question and my answer.  It was not easy to understand the question asked nor an appropriate reply.  In part, I had never thought about why I chose the Man of La Mancha.  Nevertheless, it was not long before the pieces were coming together for me. 

"Many people laugh off Don Quixote.  He fights the good fight but often it is while joisting with windmills of life."  The picture seized upon my comment.  "And you don't want to be written off as some gallant knight fencing with a windmill; is that it?"   

I pondered the picture's question for a bit, because I know where the picture was heading.  The picture was about to inquire why I joisted with windmills if feeling dumb was an issue that still haunts me.  Therefore, without the picture asking, I added, "I do not want to be seen by the world as being on a fool's errand.  Surely, I have joisted with issues that might not have been important to others for various reasons; nonetheless, I want to be true to myself." 

 The picture replied half-laughingly.  You sound like Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I nodded in agreement and added, "I have attempted to be true to myself.  I have fought the good fight...and often failed.  Nevertheless, I would much prefer to fail "while daring greatly, so that (my) place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

The picture responded caringly, "You really love Teddy Roosevelt's Man in the Arena; don't you?"  I attempted to respond by explaining that dancing with death frees one to live and failing frees one to try."

I then paused while I attempted to get my thoughts into a logical sequence and avoid choking up emotionally.  "I am in a strange place in life.  I am more alive today than I have ever been and realize that the time left me is severely limited.  Therefore, I am driven more with less time, which is a strange paradox.  That's doesn't put one in the cat bird's seat.  I know my limitations...timewise. 

"Additionally, I want to accomplish things like interviewing President Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Clarence Page.  Also, I want to address both financial and personal issues.  However, while I might not succeed at all my goals, I know that I will dare greatly. 

Then the picture paid me a compliment, "You are Don Quixote, the Man from Wolverton Mountain."  I smiled at the picture's praise and added that it must have spent a lot of time going through my website to find that video.  Then I made the picture and all of my readers this promise, "As long as I am alive, I will be Don Quixote, the Man from Wolverton Mountain."

Talking with Objects

Talking with Objects

Visit the Talking with Objects page to read more about this topic.

An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.

Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.

Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.

My Hauntings

My Hauntings

Visit the My Hauntings page to read more about this topic.

Don Quixote

"Don Quixote"

Visit the "Don Quixote" page to read more about this topic.

Man in the Arena

Man in the Arena

Visit the Man in the Arena page to read more about this topic.