Monday, February 8, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter Q


Quixotic: idealistic without regard to practicality

It should surprise no one that this word suggestion came from my friend Gail, a retired librarian. :) I had to look it up for the exact definition since the only thing I knew about quixotic is that it was probably in reference to Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

While I have never had to slay imaginary giants in windmill form, I do understand the imagination that would take him there. It was just a year or so ago, during a conversation I was having with Susie, that I realized not all people are visual thinkers. My life is a constant movie in my head… if you’re in the car talking to me on your way home, I’m visualizing you in the car with the cell to your ear. If you’re telling me a story, I am seeing it play out in my mind down to what I think you are wearing and your detailed surroundings.

To me, life is one big story. And the details make it count. It takes imagination to make that happen, but I do find myself to be quixotic in the area of being idealistic as well. Unless proven otherwise, [and it usually has to be proven to me repeatedly] I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to assume you are telling the truth, I’m going to believe your story, I’m going to know that even when you hurt me, your intentions were honorable.

I’m also going to be idealistic about your abilities. Sometimes the most amazing accomplishments happen in impracticable circumstances. That’s why I rarely think the wrong choice is to step out on a limb and try. Write your book, record your music, take the new job or move to a different city. Walk up to a person you’ve never met and say hello if you feel drawn to do so. Every choice may not be practical, but the outcome of stepping out in faith can be ideal. Friendships can be forged, people can be influenced, successes could be found around the next corner.

And if all those things don’t work, I’m idealistic about the next step you’ll make. Because sooner or later all of those stepping stones will lead you to where you need to be. Few of the big decisions in life are practical, but even the hardest things can turn out to be ideal given the right circumstances.

I guess the other thing that makes me think I’m quixotic is that my imagination is often better than the reality, just like Don Quixote’s giants were more interesting to slay than windmills. When someone is telling me about their tropical vacation, my mind is right there with them as if I had the moment myself. My excitement over a friend’s good fortune is as fun as if the fortune was mine… because while I’m not there, my mind is. My imagination is. My whole heart can see and feel and experience what isn’t actually right in front of me.

I think that’s why I keep the blinds on my windows closed more than open. Open, I know that right outside my walls are rows of garages. Closed, I can imagine myself anywhere I want to be. I can pretend that beyond my window is the view of the farm growing up, or the lake outside my uncle’s house in Brainerd. I can be back enjoying the afternoon at Clear Lake or see my friends’ kids playing in their backyards. There’s a childlike imagination that never leaves when you’re quixotic. There’s an optimism that can’t be crushed when you believe in the ideal instead of the practical. There’s a happiness that can be ever-present if you choose the joy that’s always deep inside.

Go ahead. Call me a Pollyanna. I’m ok with it. :)

a to z

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