About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.


I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

19 September 2009

The Impossible Dream


Dale Wasserman is an American playwright best known for writing the story on which the celebrated musical Man of La Mancha is based. The story was inspired by the life of Miguel de Cervantes, author of the 17th century masterpiece Don Quixote.

Man of La Mancha is best known for a song, The Impossible Dream. But, that's not the title of the song. Wasserman explains in an excerpt from his 2003 book, The Impossible Musical:
"Once upon a time I invented a phrase, 'the impossible dream.' People think it comes from a song, but it doesn't. It's from my original television play, 'I, Don Quixote.' The phrase has gone into the language and traveled far and wide. It's been used (and abused) countless times, and will continue into the future. I invented it simply to explain Don Quixote's quest - indeed the song's proper title is 'The Quest.' But the public seized upon the eponymous phrase and won't let go. The odd thing about the phrase is that everyone seems to misunderstand it. 'The impossible dream' is customarily applied to ventures that may be somewhat difficult but perfectly possible. A pennant for the Mets. A new spike in the company sales chart. An even faster computer (who needs it?) or possibly the latest burp in technology. When I see these references - and I see them every day - my impulse is to holler, 'Pay attention, damn it, the operative word is not 'dream,' the operative word is 'impossible!' Of course no one listens. But 'impossible' is exactly what I meant: the dream, to be valid, must be impossible. Not just difficult. Impossible. Which implies an ideal never attainable but nevertheless stubbornly to be pursued. A striving for what cannot be achieved but still is worth the effort. As, for instance, peace on earth. Or a gentleness for all who breathe, and breathing, suffer. Or a hope that we may mitigate the horrors paraded for us on the news every hour of every day of every week. That we may reduce the tidal surge of wars, crimes, cruelties to humans and to animals, and the orgies of atrocities that sicken the earth. These are impossible dreams. Still, quixotically, they must be dreamed."
Conversation:
  • What is your impossible dream? Explain.
Afterwords:

The lyrics to The Quest by Joe Darion:

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 be 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.

Video:

The Quest by
Brian Mitchell Stokes at the 57th Tony Awards.

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