Today is Canada Day. I made arrangements to attend Man of La Mancha in Stratford, Ontario knowing full well that it would not happen. I would, as has been customary for me, bow out at the last minute, filled with doubt and anxiety about managing such an outing. That did not prevent me from going through the motions of purchasing the tickets, selecting a meaningful date, staying up nights researching ways to get to Stratford. Even as I was engaged in this undertaking, I fully expected and anticipated that I would not be going. So, I made contingency plans. I planned for failure. There is always a plan B and C and even a D to include any and all possibilities. I had already changed the date of the tickets once, since there was no easy way to get there and return on the same day. So, as the day approached, and the anxiety escalated, I made the decision to change the date to July 1st – a significant date to be sure. Surely, the birth of our nation with it’s collective celebration would be a perfect inducement to succeed in going to a place that I had tried and failed to get to for decades. Oh, I had come close, once – within 20 minutes of my destination but decided to forgo the remaining stops just in case. My plans were overly ambitious. I had chosen another significant day: Thanksgiving – to visit with friends in a city nearby where I would stay overnight and continue the next day. It did not happen. I returned to Toronto with my tail between my legs and found my wallet that much lighter. I had absorbed the monetary losses for years. The losses to my self esteem proved to be much more costly.
So, this year, I was much more creative and just a little bit devious. I had asked one friend to accompany me on the initially booked trip and another for the rescheduled one. Then, I plotted and strategized a way of achieving the goal whether I went or not. In a perfect world, in the best of circumstances, I would succeed in what had been the impossible for years.Yet, knowing that it was probably and undoubtedly, not to be, I asked both friends to go with each other – all expenses paid. I even arranged the direct bus transfer to and from the Stratford theater. What an ingenious plan. Both of my friends were willing to go as proxies and I was left to do whatever it is one does in 40c heat on a holiday when your friends have just left town.
While an imperfect way to achieve one’s objectives at living, it nevertheless provided a sense of gratification in that I felt involved not only in the process but in the execution. My friends unwittingly included me in the trip. My best friend called me as soon as they arrived. They went to eat before the play pre ordering take out for me to be picked up on the return trip. Keepsakes were bought, and I was given a program and playlist upon their return. I asked for details; we discussed Man of La Mancha, Cervantes, the description of the city of Stratford and viewed the photos I ordered when I insisted that they take my camera. I imagined the sights, sounds and flavor of the small theatre town. Hungerly, I lapped up every morsel of information that would serve as a lasting visual memory that I could cherish as if I had been there. I enjoyed the visceral reaction that the details provided. No detail was too small or unimportant. One of my friends recounted his personal memories of earlier years that were elicited during the bus ride home. The trip was an evocative one for him as he remembered former days of visiting with family in the area. What a bonus. Recollections of past experiences of living during an outing to which I was something of a voyeur.
Stratford is renowned for the bard. It has a lake named the Avon after the British place where Shakespeare lived and wrote his works. Many of the plays still are that of Shakespeare, but over the years programs were expanded to include other offerings, such as Broadway musicals. This year, it was Man of LaMancha, a Cervantes adapted musical based on the novel Don Quixote. The story resonates in many ways. It was to be my success story and mark a redemptive chapter in my life that would finally, like the protagonist, propel me forward into a new reality. The Impossible Dream as sung by the old Knight has been my motivational song for eons and if that alone wasn’t sufficient to help me achieve my dreams, then all one can absolutely rely on with definite are illusions. If the old Knight living in his madness fighting imaginary windmills could find reality and wholeness, then surely dreams that were not mad could not only provide hope but transcendence.
In some perverse way, my longing for living was realized through the efforts of others. I was not unhappy that I failed at going. Rather, I was filled with a sense that I had advanced my experience of living in a different and meaningful albeit unorthodox way. I created my sense of reality vicariously and immensely enjoyed the day through the snippets of lived and shared experiences of others. Sometimes, living vicariously is a better alternative than not living at all. It is a secondary way of achieving gratification and will never supplant living one’s life in real time in an authentic way. Perhaps, it is a continuum between the world of dreams and that of wakefulness. After all, we shape our own reality by how we perceive it to be. Those of us who are constricted by limiting conditions must find creative ways to get our needs and aspirations fulfilled. It provides us with temporary solace in what otherwise would be a vacuous existence.
“ To Dream the Impossible Dream” ~
By: Danielle Radicanin
Writer is an educational consultant in various areas of adult education and freelance writer.