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A Man Named Don: Tackling Obstacles

Hello and Happy New Year!

Thanks for checking in. The idea behind this blog is a really simple one: I want to help you, the reader, to accomplish your goals – or at least attempt to.

Here’s a little secret right off the bat: it doesn’t matter if you accomplish your goals or not. Not really anyway. You’ve heard that whole thing about it not being the destination but rather the journey? That’s what I’m talking about here. What matters here – and what I hope to convey in these posts – is that it’s the attempt that matters. Attempt. That’s all. Have the audacity to think of some crazy goal; some unachievable dream. And try to make it happen. Whether it does or not, that part is somewhat irrelevant.

The truth is, your dreams will not happen the way you expect them to. And that’s totally okay. Don’t get me wrong: if the goals are simple enough, sure, they might happen exactly as you expect or want. But embracing that which you cannot control is an important step in any dreamer’s journey.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Why am I writing this blog? I don’t mean why did I choose to write it – I mean why me? Why this guy? Why Nicholas Arnold? I could list my resume, accomplishments and many, many failed endeavors, but you can find all of those quite easily in my bio. Also, what a thing to waste a first blog post on. Instead, I’ll keep it simple. Sort of.

Fair warning: Simple for me includes a lot of digressing. Sorry.

The long and short of it is, I’m like you. Or at least I hope I am. I assume I am. I’ve had goals, dreams, desires – a lot of which seemed rather impossible. A lot of which I had while I was still in high school. Some of which, I actually accomplished.

As a kid I fell in love with a song, “The Impossible Dream” from the musical, Man of La Mancha. For those of you uninitiated with the Broadway hit, allow me to provide a bit of background.

"Those over there are not giants but windmills!"

Man of La Mancha is based on one of the first novels ever written, Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes. While Cervantes’ novel is, by many, regarded as a satirical and critical look at whimsy, imagination & dreamers, the musical it inspired is an uplifting anthem for believing in yourself and braving tasks which seem impossible. I choose to examine, study and appreciate the music (for the purpose of this blog anyway), while I do still love the novel and all of its literary significance.

Both the book and the musical tell the story of Don Quixote – an ordinary old man who believes himself to be a knight-errant on a valiant quest. Of course, in actuality, he isn’t a knight at all, but that doesn’t stop him. Not at all. Don Quixote sets off on a quest (which contains no real objective in its sheer randomness). He claims, instead, that his quest is simply to write the wrongs of the world. This is expanded upon at length in “The Impossible Dream“.

Quixote goes along on his quest, despite – or perhaps in spite of those who ridicule him. in a famous scene in both the book and musical, Don Quixote stumbles upon a slew of windmills on a distant plain. He sees these windmills and he believes that they are giants he is meant to conquer. He attacks his newfound foe with all the bravery he can muster.

“Windmills appear in our lives in the form of demanding trials”

There’s a lesson I choose to take from this passage of the story, looking past the obvious criticism of whimsy and delusion. I instead like to compare Quixote’s windmill giants to every day challenges and obstacles that occur in my life. Windmills appear in our lives in the form of demanding trials that we are meant to approach with bravery – and further overcome. Ideally, anyway.

They might appear in the form of a test or exam. Perhaps they appear in the form of something more serious – a family tragedy, relationship troubles, a health problem. Regardless of what form they take, these windmills do appear. Whether or not we choose to charge at them – full force, no holds barred, is the question we must ask ourselves. That’s what this blog is going to be about – tackling the windmills, reigniting the creative spark and finding the appropriate tools and tricks to do so.

“You’ll find that they are, indeed, only windmills”

You’ll find, if you follow the steps outlines in these articles and posts, that these giants – these obstacles and barriers that prevent us from accomplishing our goals – if you look closely, you’ll discover that they are, indeed, only windmills. And you are more than capable of conquering them. It is interesting to note that the term ‘chasing windmills‘ is an English idiom derived from Don Quixote, meaning to ‘confront imaginary enemies.’

Whether you are still in high school, a recent graduate or somewhere in your 20s (a little ‘lost at sea’), I hope you find something in this blog that resonates with you. In it, I’ll be sharing stories, tips and ideas from both myself and colleagues/mentors of mine – general inspiration that I hope will motivate you to live a more adventurous life.

- Nick

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