My favorite literary character in the entire universe is Don Quixote. I fell in love with him when I was fourteen years-old and first read Cervantes’s masterpiece. Now that I’m in my fifties, I finally understand why this character moved into my heart and never left.
For those of you who have not read Don Quixote, I’m posting it at the end of this blog. Buy it! Many consider it one of the greatest works of fiction ever published.
Super Quick Synopsis: The protagonist of Cervantes’ novel is a retired country gentleman who is nearly fifty years of age. Alonso is a rational man with sound reason, but spends hours reading romantic books on chivalry. These books have a profound effect on him, and while his mental faculties seem to stagger, his heart grows stronger.
Alonso Quijano renames himself Don Quixote de la Mancha, names his skinny horse Rocinante, and designates a neighboring farm girl as his lady love, renaming her Dulcinea del Toboso.
The rest of the story has Don Quixote going on several sojourns with his faithful comrade Sancho, following a path enhanced by an imagination that turns inns into castles and windmills into ferocious giants.
I’ll never forget seeing “Man of La Mancha” on Broadway when I lived near San Francisco. I was only fourteen, but I cried my heart out. Not because this gentle man lost his mind, or because he fought windmills. I realize, now, I cried because he understood something about life that I did not.
Don Quixote knew that:
I don’t care that townspeople mocked him, or that those he tried to save were confused by him. Don Quixote faced a time in life when he had to ask himself, “Is this all there is?”
His resounding response was, “No! In my heart I am a Warrior. I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. I can make a difference. If I can imagine it, then it can be done.” And he did it. He went traveled difficult roads, he fought ferocious enemies, he saved a princess and freed a slave. Am I arguing that intent is more important than result? Maybe. Is this all because I’m now in my fifties and yearning for my own journey of the heart? Perhaps.
But I will tell you this . . . at some point in life making money stops being fulfilling. A fork in the road presents itself that says “money” or “heart.” I am joining the noble knight on the path to heart.
And now I want to share with you one of my favorite renditions of my favorite song, To Dream the Impossible Dream. Yes, it’s Gomer Pyle. Better than that, it’s Jim Nabors:
And here is Don Quixote – a must read: