Don Quixote and Confucius Told Me
To Get Off My Arse

I have written dozens of essays about dancing with death.  It has been an incredible journey for me.  Nevertheless, I hope that I will not have to lead death again soon as we dance.  In the meantime, I want to share with my readers the transformation that I feel within me.  I am also privy to the feelings that many of my readers might have reading about this journey. 

Some of you will question my sincerity or the degree to which I might have changed.  Let me share a truth with you.  If I had read this essay prior to dancing with death, I too would question the writer.  Honestly.  Nonetheless, the difference is that I have danced with death, and I get it.  And what a feeling; trust me.  Read on.

Like so many other things in life, we think that we get things.  Then years later realize that we had not gotten it as completely as we thought we had.  Case in point: The Man of La ManchaDon Quixote has been written off as merely a wandering knight-errant joisting with windmills and accomplishing nothing. 


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However, that is not Don Quixote.  Throughout his life, he fought the good fight but often stumbled and fell.  Nevertheless, on his deathbed, he uttered these words, "Not well?  What is illness to the body of a knight-errant?  What matter wounds?  For each time he falls, he shall rise again, and woe to the wicked."

In reality, "To dream the impossible fight the unbeatable foe" is not just a lovely line; it is the reason for living.  Humans have the ability to be more than merely vegetating lifeforms.  We have within us the ability to stand again having fallen.

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...

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

Saul Alinsky, the famous community organizer in Chicago, said, "We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful new world.  We will see it when we believe it."  However, another community organizer, Confucius (孔夫子), was born and lived in Lu, China from 551-479 BCE.  Interestingly, Confucius was born into the shi, which was made up of knights and scholars in China.  The timeframe in which he lived was a time of social unrest. 


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Confucius expressed the same attitude about life as did Don Quixote and Alinsky, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."  They all realized that life was not going to be always a walk in a park.  Often, life is fighting the good fight.  The issue is how one lives his or her life.  Problems will occur in life, which is a given.  The choice is clear.  One will address the problems honestly, fighting the good fight, or sit it out on the margins of life fearful of the future. 

Dancing with death allows one to carpe diem, seize the day.  Instead of pining away about falling, get up, and enter the fray again.  Now, you might lose the battle, but not standing up again and reentering the battles of life means that you have already lost.  That seems like such a clear choice.  Don Quixote and Confucius understood that truth and battled on. 

Having danced with death, I understand better than I did a decade ago that I am not immortal.  Therefore, I have made a list of dreams that I still have.  These five items are dreams about which I have not yet accomplished.  A day does not go by that in some manner I attempt to realize one or more of them.  Again, this is another secret.  When I realize one of them, I will replace it with another and will continue to do so ad infinitum

That tenacity creates within me What a Feeling.  If you still question my belief system, remember what Alinsky said, "We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful new world.  We will see it when we believe it." 

Darkest Before Dawn

Darkest Before Dawn

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The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture

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Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death

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Don Quixote

"Don Quixote"

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Man in the Arena

Man in the Arena

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Confucius Said


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Best of Times

Best and Worst of Times

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