“Impossible Dream” is my favorite song within my favorite play: “Man of La Mancha.” The story is loosely based on “Don Quixote,” by Miguel Cervantes about an old man who reads books on knights and chivalry. He self-proclaims himself a knight and takes the name, Don Quixote de La Mancha and goes off to pursue noble quests with his faithful squire, Sancho.
They spot a windmill and think it’s a four-armed giant and they mistake a rundown inn for a castle. Within that castle, Quixote meets a waitress, Aldonza, a woman who has seen more than her share of hard times. Quixote changes Aldonza’s name to, Dulcinea which means “sweetness of a tender lover.” For Don Quixote, Dulcinea is a sweet princess with whom he pledges his life to defend her honor.
So, the main characters are an old man with visions of impossible dreams pledging his undying love to a woman who once had big dreams but settled for much less. Two depressing answers to the question: “What happens to our big dreams?” For some the answer is “mission accomplished” and they are living the dream now. For others, big dreams were compromised by the oftentimes harsh reality of daily living.
Reality competes with our dreams: Microbiologists end up delivering mail. Pastors sell stocks and bonds. Geniuses end up behind bars. Healthy people gain 180 pounds. Teachers end up selling insurance. Fun and exciting people end up bolted to the security of their own homes.
But our dreams do not have to die, even when reality seems to have the upper hand. Big dreams may be put aside temporarily or altered but giving them up was never God’s plan for us.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
God has dreams and plans for your future and the pain you experience may be a part of that future but only a part. When you pray, God will listen and if you look for God in earnest, you will find Him.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil. Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Even during tragedy and disappointment, God is in control. If you learn to trust God, you will gain the renewed health and vitality you need to pursue those dreams.
Near the end of the play, Don Quixote is at home, lying in bed near death, his dreams shattered. Sancho tries to cheer him up, but the old man says his knightly career was just a dream. Aldonza forces her way into the old man’s bedroom to visit because she can no longer bear to be anyone but Dulcinea. When he does not recognize her, she helps him remember.
She says, “Once you found a girl and called her Dulcinea. When you spoke the name, an angel seemed to whisper, Dulcinea. Won’t you please bring back the dream of Dulcinea? Won’t you bring me back the bright and shining glory of Dulcinea?”
The old man whispers, “Perhaps it was not a dream.”
Kneeling beside Quixote, she says, “You spoke of a dream. And about the quest. How you must fight, and it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose if only you follow the quest.”
He rises from the bed: “The words! Tell me the words!
She continues: “To dream the impossible dream. To fight the unbeatable foe. To bear with unbearable sorrow. To run where the brave dare not go.”
His voice growing stronger he says, “To right the un-rightable wrong. To love pure and chase from afar. To try when your arms are too weary. To reach the unreachable star.”
Suddenly, the old man rises from his bed, calling for his armor and sword so that he may set out again as the mighty Don Quixote de La Mancha, but it is too late. He cries out and falls dead. Sancho is distraught at his friend’s death. Aldonza tries to comfort him, saying, “the old man may be dead but Don Quixote de La Mancha lives on.” When Sancho addresses her as Aldonza, she replies, “My name is Dulcinea.”
The dream lives on. The old man may be dead, but the dream has been planted in Aldonza who becomes to herself and to the world, Dulcinea. The Impossible Dream is alive in the heart and soul of Dulcinea. Do you ever wonder what happened to Dulcinea? Well, I happened to get my hands on a never-before-seen script that follows the original play. Would you like to hear what happened next? Of course, you would.
First, Aldonza becomes Dulcinea and continues to work at the inn for several years, but she never forgets the Impossible Dream. The owner of the inn decides to retire and helps Dulcinea purchase the old rundown inn. She immediately begins to make improvements and takes over all the cooking. Her dream is to become a quality chef with a menu that would attract the finest patrons.
Her inn is renamed: Quixote Castle and becomes the dining establishment to visit with a reputation of serving the finest food and offering the highest quality service. With the profits from Quixote Castle along with the approval and financial help from the church, Dulcinea opens a school offering quality education for boys and girls. The school is aptly named “The Don Quixote School of Impossible Dreams.”
The Impossible Dream lives on:
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. And one man or woman, sore and covered with scars, still strove with their last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star.
In the end, two broken people were healed and fulfilled their quest. The Impossible Dream is alive and well within each of us, thanks be to God.