SANCHO PANZA AND THE REST OF US

There’s part of the musical version of Don Quixote, the Spanish novel authored in the early 1600s by Miguel de Cervantes, that I occasionally find myself reminding people about.  Don Quixote is, of course, the nobleman from La Mancha who reads so many romances involving chivalry that he comes to believe that he must revive chivalry in Spain.  He recruits a farmer named Sancho Panza as his sidekick or squire and sets off on his quest.

Don Quixote has, of course, lost his mind.  Yet, Sancho Panza continues to follow him through a series of adventures or misadventures, including attacking a “monster” with his lance, when the “monster” is actually a windmill.

At one point in the tale, Sancho Panza is asked something like, “Why do you follow him?  Surely, you know he is mad.”  And Panza breaks into the song, I Really Like Him:

 

SANCHO
I like him, I really like him.
Tear out my fingernails one by one, I like him!
I don’t have a very good reason,
Since I’ve been with him,
Cuckoo-nuts have been in season…
But there’s nothing I can do,
Chop me up for onion stew,
Still I’ll yell to the sky
Though I can’t tell you why,
That I like him!

ALDONZA
It doesn’t make any sense!

SANCHO
That’s because you’re not a squire.

ALDONZA
All right, I’m not a squire. ] Now does a squire squire?

SANCHO
Well, I ride behind him… and he fights.
Then I pick him up off the ground, and…

ALDONZA
But, what do you get out of it?

SANCHO
What do I get? Oh! Why, already I’ve gotten…
I’ve gotten…

ALDONZA
You’ve got nothing! Why do you do it?

SANCHO
I like him, I really like him.

 

No one we embrace in our lives is perfect, and many of those whom we embrace are imperfect.  But if we like them—never mind, love them—then that is often enough of an explanation for standing with them, or helping them stand up, again.  The energy of those interpersonal bonds can’t be seen under a microscope, but, thank God, it surely exists.

Now, here’s a really important thing:  We are all Don Quixote, in lesser or greater measure.  And for each person who sticks with us, nonetheless, we are blessed.

One more thing—the most important thing of all:  We have to be our own Sancho Panzas.  We have to keep loving ourselves even with all our quirks, our insanities, our misadventures.  Because life is a journey, and we will all need to be not only one another’s squire, at some point, but also to squire ourselves forward from pain to power.

Dr. Keith Ablow

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