Yesterday was July 4 – Independence Day for those of us in the United States whose country started as a dream and became a reality. I cannot imagine what it was like for many of ancestors to board boats from their countries of origin and set out for what they hoped was better than what they left behind.
It probably seemed impossible. Yet – because they dreamed it – we have a country now where freedoms exist like they do nowhere else. They dreamed an impossible dream, and yesterday we remembered that. And I am thankful.
On Sunday, my family attended a production of Man of La Mancha at the St Croix Festival Theatre. We know the man who played the lead – Don Quixote – and the musical is one of my favorites. The show is actually a show within a show. The story set in reality takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. Miguel Cervantes – author of the book Don Quixote de la Mancha – is in jail awaiting his trial for crimes against the Catholic Church. While waiting, he pulls the other inmates into the musical telling of Don Quixote who believes himself to be a knight fighting giants (windmills) and wooing the lady Dulcinea (a prostitute named Aldonza).
When he describes his quest, Quixote sings a moving song that brings tears to my eyes pretty much every time I see the production (or even hear it on my car stereo…). You can watch a performance by the original Broadway performer by clicking here.
The lyrics (taken from the Reel Classics website) are amazing:
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
Every time I hear this song, I am moved. But, as I watched the performance on Sunday – only days after attending the Search Institute’s training about one of their Big Ideas called Sparks, I realized that Don Quixote is inspiring because he has found his spark!
According to Search Institute’s website, “Sparks are the interests that inspire, the activities that energize. Sparks are the special abilities uniquely yours to tend, to grow, to share with the world.”
Don Quixote’s spark is to fight for the ability see the world in the most positive light possible…he wants to dream the impossible dream and bring others along in what other characters in the musical see as madness. But for Quixote, the dream is not madness – it is what gives him life. It is what allows him to thrive. And when the spark is put out, Quixote nearly dies.
Search Institute has a cool formula that shows how a young person’s spark helps them to thrive:
+ 3 champions (adults who support the spark/the young person)
Over 200 years ago, 13 colonies and the Committee of Five had a dream that seemed impossible, but it came true. We are evidence of that today. Imagine what would be different if that spark had been put out. Imagine what would be different if they had chosen not to follow that quest and do the impossible.
What impossible dream does a young person in your life have? What spark does that young person have and how can you or someone else help it along?