Dealing with Impossible Dreams Realistically...
Or Getting All My Ducks Lined Up
One of the traits that I possess
is that I attempt to resolve all my questions. In part, it is due to what
I call my hauntings. When confronted with an issue that I feel begs a
resolution, I will address it until I have managed to halt my hauntings.
However, not all of my seemingly impossible dreams are actualized. Some
of the dreams are dashed. To be absolutely honest, I have a long list of unresolved
issues, which still haunt me.
Even though I specifically
attempt to emulate three of my mentors, Don Quixote, Teddy Roosevelt, and Randy
Pausch, I often have to listen again to their messages. For example, Don
Quixote, the knight-errant of another time, essentially tells me to continue to
dream impossible dreams.
My mentor has told me many times
not to quit. So what if you fail? Don Quixote's message to me is to
get up the next day, get your lance, and mount your horse. There is no
way to joist with the windmills of life sitting in the corner pining away about
what could have been but isn't. Don Quixote simply says, "Hey, Campbell, if
you want something, act." This essay is about acting upon the most
important of my knight-errant quests in my entire life.
Did that get your attention?
Nonetheless, there is still
another unresolved haunting. So I act and ride off toward this absolutely
essential windmill. My haunting of failure is also addressed by another
of my mentors, Teddy Roosevelt. On April 23, 1910, he gave a very long
speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. No one remembers anything of that speech
except a single paragraph called the Man in the Arena.
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of
deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is
actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who
strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is
no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the
deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in
a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring
greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who
neither know victory nor defeat.
Roosevelt taught me a critically
important lesson of life. I, in turn, have taught my children,
grandchildren, and friends by example. In spite of failing, at least I
dared greatly in my attempt. Whether the metaphor is of a knight-errant
or a gladiator, fight the good fight. And, even if you fail, you have
demonstrated by example to try the seemingly impossible dreams.
Additionally, Roosevelt said that my "place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Finally, my other mentor, Randy
Pausch, taught me another critical lesson. "The brick walls are not there
to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how
badly we want something." Pausch gave his Last Lecture less than a
year before he died of pancreatic cancer. Having danced with death with
prostate cancer, I listen to whatever Pausch said. His comment about the
brick walls is illustrative of how each of us ought to live. I understand
just how beneficial the brick walls are.
Now that you have the backstory
about what drives me at 73-years of age, let me share with you my greatest
dream in all my life. There isn't anything that compares with this most
monumental quest of mine. I have for years wanted to interview Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi, the Lady. I tried three years ago before I left for a month
in Myanmar (Burma) and failed. I worked hard while in Myanmar and also
failed. I couldn't even contact someone who might forward my request to
Three years have passed.
However, I had exchanged emails with Moh Moh, who was one of
my tour guides in Myanmar. I wrote to her and pined away about all the
efforts that I had made, which had gone for naught. I was upset at
One of the Don Quixote's of Myanmar
Then it happened. Moh Moh
wrote a short email which sounded like Don Quixote. Essentially, she told
me not to quit. That exchange of emails occurred about three months
ago. A short email of a couple dozen words finally woke me up. If
you need any illustrations regarding the transformation that her Don
Quixote-esque email made in my life, allow me to outline getting all my ducks in order to return to Myanmar and
interview the most important defender of human rights in the entire
Wrote to Tin, another guide of
mine in Myanmar who I also admire, and asked him if he could provide me with
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's address. The Lady is now the State Counsellor and Minister
of Foreign Affairs. In a matter of a couple hours, Tin emailed the
address. I wrote a formal request to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with several
links in the letter to articles that I had written regarding her work on human
rights. Then the hauntings returned. I am requesting her to read
the letter and then have to manually rewrite the links to a computer so as to
find the articles. Done.
I needed an email address. However,
as I again addressed the haunting, I remembered my congressman, Rep. Pete
Visclosky, had helped me when I was in China teaching an American university
class. I told Rep. Visclosky that I would like him to send an email to
the US Ambassador, Scot Marciel, in Yangon requesting him to read my two
emails. My first email was to Ambassador Marciel and the other was to the
Lady. Rep. Visclosky's request was sent and within a couple of days his
office called me and told me that Ambassador Marciel had forwarded my email to
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Done.
I was told by people at our embassy
and the Lady's office that this will be a long process before any decision was
made. This is due to there are so many requests for interviews with her.
Nonetheless, I believe that once Aung San Suu Kyi reads my email and click on the
links to my website that she will accept my request. Done.
The next haunting or getting my next
duck in order had to do with rearranging my two online colleges classes' work
schedules slightly while I am in Myanmar. That haunting was easy and was
accomplished within an hour. Done.
However, the college where I
teach is changing the online software program at the end of this semester and requires
all professors to learn the new program, which will start in January. Even
though I believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will grant me an interview, I don't
know when it will be. It could be anytime, which would be based upon her
schedule. So, Lisa, the manager of the online teachers and their classes,
got a plea from me. I needed to sit down with her. Interestingly, I
taught Lisa two classes, which she took while she was a student at the same
college that she is now employed. Done.
I write over a dozen articles
each month for my website and Facebook. I will have to have most of the
new essays written before I return to Myanmar. Those ducks are a long way
from being lined-up. Nonetheless, I have started on that task.
Then there is the issue of
getting my video camera two spare batteries. More importantly, I needed
to download the software program to save the videos along with getting a
refresher class on the video camera. Enter Jason, who got the download
program install on my laptop to save the videos, and Dennis reviewed the best
techniques to employ when video recording events. Done.
Then the next haunting was what
would I bring to the Lady as a gift? This brings up several critical
issues. I need to find a gift for the most important advocate for reform
rights in the world. Think about my plight. What gift would be
approximate? As quickly as that haunting occurred, I realized precisely
what I would bring. From my perspective, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a 21st
century version of Don Quixote. She joisted with the windmills of the
military dictatorship at the protest rally as Sule Pagoda on 8/8/88, which is
called the 88-Uprising. She dreamt the impossible dream while under house
arrest for 15-years as the result. Then the Lady fought for democracy by
being the leader of the National League for Democracy. In her entire
adult life, she faced those and other plights both personal and
The 8888 Uprising
It is not a stretch to see her as
a 21st century Don Quixote. I went to eBay to find a wooden scripture
like the one that I have had for decades. Within a couple of minutes, I
found exactly the same wooden
carving. I ordered it and several days later, it arrived. Perfect. Well,
it was not perfect. It was exactly the same carving except for two
problems. Don Quixote's head had been repaired, and it was an identical
copy of the one that I have but 2/3 the size. Guess which statue will be the
Lady's gift? She will receive what I call one of my treasures, and she
and I will laugh at my problem with getting a gift exactly like she received.
The next duck was my passport,
which expires in the middle of December of 2016. That means that I either
must get to Myanmar again by no later than the beginning of November.
This would allow several weeks for my return trip. If it is later, I need
to get another passport plus a visa. However, there is also the visa
issue to address as soon as possible. This duck isn't lined-up...yet.
Another haunting has to do with
needed immunization shots for traveling in Myanmar. Off I went to Dr.
Forgey in Merrillville, IN. He specializes in travel medicine, and I have
used him every that I have travel overseas. Additionally, I need to get
prescriptions for dealing with food poisoning. For those that have read
about my trip to Indochina, I have the ability to get food poisoning in the Far
East...twice in Vietnam and once in Thailand. I know what it feels like to think
that you are going to die at one moment and then what it feels like not to
die. That being said, I had no problem with food poisoning during the
month in Myanmar. I ate in restaurants and from street vendors.
Never did I ever have any problem. Actually, I loved the food in Myanmar.
Now that I have many of my ducks
in order, I will wait until the Lady decides if and when I will be able to
realize the most important thing that I will ever accomplish in my over seven
decades of life. What an honor and learning experience wrapped up into
one moment in time! I truly believe that this will happen.