“Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.” – Man of La Mancha

Around 6th grade, I read the first grown-up book of my life: Don Quixote. Blessed with naiveté and a limited vocabulary, I gave myself entirely to the adventure side of the novel, sidestepping all of the nuances and social commentary.

It was as if I were another Sancho Panza, the plump and loyal laborer, buying into Quixote’s chivalric ideals. In school, I would close my eyes and immediately become lost in a great quest. It beat Sister Mary Catherine’s history class every time.

It may have been the hangover from this book that has caused me to chase after so many windmills in my life. I uncovered all kinds of mischief in my early years before finally getting rescued. As I recall, Don Quixote was brought home on an ox cart by an empathetic priest and a barber. I was saved by a brilliant, gay English professor and a loving family.

What is it about dreaming the impossible dream that continues to stay with me? Why, after a full night’s rest, do I still awaken some mornings thinking my duty and destiny is to “defend the hopeless and destroy the wicked”? There may be something in common between my aging, robin’s-egg blue Chevy and Rocinante, the old barn nag Quixote rode into battle. And, even at my age, I keep trying to impress the Dulcineas of my world whenever they show up at a grocery store or crosswalk.

I hope there will always be quixotic moments in my life. I hope I continue to gravitate toward people who follow their dreams and ideals, and those who make positive differences in people’s lives that could never have been imagined at the outset of their journey.

Whenever I wake up a little sore or feel like I’m out of energy, I try to remember the words from Don Quixote “…he who’s down one day can be up the next, unless he really wants to stay in bed…”

Let’s all continue to chase those impossible dreams in 2014.