Quixote Across the Years

Posted by on March 5, 2012

In 1605, Quixote’s fearsome giants were windmills and Dulcinea1 was his beautiful, impossible dream.

“What giants?” said Sancho Panza.

“Those you see there,” answered his master, “with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long.”

“Look, your worship,” said Sancho. “What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the vanes that turn by the wind and make the millstone go.”

“It is easy to see,” replied Don Quixote, “that you are not used to this business of adventures.”

—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

In 1765, Patrick Henry’s giant was tyranny and Liberty was his dream. He said, “Give me Dulcinea2, or give me death.”

In 1845, Henry David Thoreau’s giant was a distracted life and Purpose was his dream:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what Dulcinea3 had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

But it was September 23, 1798, during the idyllic years between the American Revolution and Walden Pond that a newly graduated Mr. Bronson of New Haven scribbled a note to his classmate, Thomas Lewis of Glastonbury:

“Yesterday Morning, just after I got out of bed I looked out at the window and saw a young gentleman on horseback riding round a rock at the corner of the meeting house, who, after surrounding it three times, I discovered was Wilcokson. I suppose he was playing Don Quixote to it. I just bid him good morrow and saw him proceed, with his Rocinante, towards Glastonbury…”

A young man named Wilcokson found some fascination in a rock at the corner of a meeting house 214 years ago.  He circled it thrice, judged it unworthy to be his giant, then rode onward in search of adventure.

Have you found a giant worthy of your attention or are you just riding in circles ‘round a rock?

I am often asked, “What is your fascination with Don Quixote?” The question is a fair one, so today I will attempt to answer it.

I love Don Quixote because:

1. he saw beauty where others did not.
(In the eyes of others, his Lady Dulcinea was a common village girl.)

2. he saw adventure where others did not.
(“What giants?” said Sancho Panza…)

3. he was utterly committed to his quest.
(Quixote never gave up, never backed down. He was willing to suffer hardship for what he believed.)

Are you able to see beauty in the ordinary?
Are you willing to find adventure in the daily?
Are you prepared to commit completely to what you believe?

Sancho Panza didn’t always understand Don Quixote, but he never left his side. Sancho encouraged Quixote, advised Quixote, and helped Quixote to mend each time he was broken. Sancho and Don had such a marvelous time together that we continue to speak of them after 400 years.

Wizard Academy is Sancho Panza to every dreamer of an impossible dream.

Can you name your Dulcinea?

Come, we will help you fight giants.
Roy H. Williams

1. Three Short Steps to Clear Communication
2. How to Target the Psychological Environment
3. Development of a nationwide radio campaign: the step-by-step case history of a campaign that’s about to debut. It all happens Monday, March 12, 2012.

YOU: What’s the deal with the cute beagle with the sword?

YOU: Are there any upcoming classes I should attend?

  1. 1.  (Dul-sin-A-uh)
  2. 2.   Liberty
  3. 3.   it (Life)

Leave a Reply