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Story of the Month

Off To See The Wizard

I have a habit of which I know not the origin. Whenever my wife and I get into a car to go on a trip, I emphatically say, “We’re off to see the wizard!” Neither of us have ever really talked about it. It’s just something I do. Nan doesn’t seem to mind. I guess we associate wizards with having all the answers. It’s funny that I use that expression so regularly, since I don’t generally place a lot of stock in wizards and the like. To me, it’s more a matter of trusting my own feelings and my own experiences. I’m skeptical of authority.

A certain man lay bedridden with a serious illness, and it appeared that his death was near. In her fear, his wife summoned the local town doctor. The doctor tapped around on the patient and listened for more than half an hour. He checked his pulse, put his head on the man’s chest, turned him onto his stomach and then his side and back. He raised the man’s legs and body, opened his eyes, and looked in his mouth. Finally, with a great deal of conviction, he said, “My dear woman, unfortunately I must give you sad news. Your husband has been dead for two days.”

At this very moment, the ailing man raised his head in shock and whimpered anxiously, “No, my dearest, I am still alive!”

The wife pushed her husband back down onto the pillow with her hand and replied with irritation, “Be quiet! The doctor is an expert. He ought to know!”

In general, people seem very impressed with fame and fortune. If they get near a famous person, you can see the glitter in their eyes. People seem to think their happiness is related to finding answers from celebrities, llamas, yogis, Zen masters, clergy, gurus, and the like. They’ll travel to the Himalayas, to the mountain top, to the ends of the earth. They’re off to see the wizards. Hey, I like adventure and travel too. I’m curious, and I’m respectful of those in positions of influence, but if something doesn’t sit right with me, I can recognize that.

In his recent book Still Here , Ram Dass relates a story that his father used to tell him about an old village tailor named Zumbach:

As legend had it, a man in this village succeeded in business and wanted to have a new suit made. He went to Zumbach, the most famous tailor in the land, and had himself measured. When he came back to Zumbach’s shop the next week for the final fitting and put on his new suit and stood in front of the mirror, he saw that the right sleeve was two inches longer than the left.

“Er, Zumbach,” he said, “there seems to be something wrong here. This sleeve is at least two inches too long.”

The tailor, who didn’t like backtalk from his customers, puffed himself up and said, “There is nothing wrong with the suit, my good man. Clearly, it’s the way you’re standing.” With that, Zumbach pushed on the man’s shoulder until the sleeves were even. But when the customer looked in the mirror, he saw that the fabric at the back of the suit was bunched up behind his neck.

“Please, Zumbach,” the poor man said, “my wife hates a suit that bulges in back. Would you mind just taking that out?”

Zumbach snorted indignantly, “I tell you there’s nothing wrong with this suit! It must be the way you’re standing.” Zumbach shoved the man’s head forward until the suit seemed to fit him to perfection. After paying the tailor’s high price, the man left Zumbach’s store in confusion.

Later that day, he was waiting at the bus stop with his shoulders lopsided and his head straining forward, when another fellow took hold of his lapel and said, “What a beautiful suit! I’ll bet Zumbach the tailor made that suit for you.”

“Why yes,” the man said, “but how did you know?”

“Because only a tailor as brilliant as Zumbach could outfit a body as crippled as yours.”

Happy, self-actualized people have a sense of reverence and wonderment with regard to our universe and existence. No one has all the answers. We can’t know everything. We don’t even know what the next hour will bring. As much as we know about ourselves and about life, there will always be much more that is unknown. Ram Das advises us to “rest in the mysterious present and let the future unfold as it will.” This echoes the words of Long Chen Pa, a 14 th century Tibetan Dzogchen Master:

Since everything is none other than exactly as it is, one may well just break out in laughter.

So, although I always seem to say, “We’re off to see the wizard!” I’m not expecting to get all the answers. I’m more aligned with the essence of Rilke:

Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart, and
try to love the questions themselves.

From the book "The Happiness Solution:
Finding Joy and Meaning in an Upside Down World"

by Dr.Alan Gettis Ph.D.
© Copyright 2006


Prior to the first day of elementary school, a teacher was told that five of her students were gifted and were leaders. What she wasn’t told was that this was a research study, and that the psychologists had chosen the five kids randomly. In reality, the designated children had no more intelligence or talent than the other kids. The teacher, however, believed them to be special. At the end of the school year, the teacher did evaluations of all her pupils. The five that were supposedly gifted scored higher on most variables than the others. I don’t think this is the placebo effect or the old self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, the kids didn’t even know they were labeled in such positive terms. I’d call it more of a Dulcinea effect. Let me explain.

Alonso Quejana was a retired, middle-aged gentleman living in the Spanish village of la Mancha. He was an avid reader and was obsessed with chivalrous ideas. He was a true romantic. In Cervante’s book, we follow the transformation of Alonso as he evolves into Don Quixote de la Mancha, the errant knight who fights windmills and defends his ideals. It’s hard to write about this without singing, “I’m Don Quixote, the man of la Mancha…” Go ahead, sing it, it’s okay. This is a book about feeling good. Belt it out. Sing it as if no one is listening. Like you would in the shower. Anyway, back to the story.

Aldonza Lorenzo is a peasant girl, but Don Quixote believes she is a princess. He believes it not simply intellectually, but with his heart and soul, and with every fiber of his being. He believes she is the princess Dulcinea (sweetness). Much of the plot of Don Quixote is about his travels with Sancho Panza, a rustic farmer who became Don’s faithful squire. Sancho understands that Dulcinea may not really exist, and that Aldonza is simply a peasant. But Don Quixote will have none of that. He is more interested in dreaming the impossible dream and righting the unrightable wrong. He is a romantic in love, a man with a mission, and a believer in Dulcinea.

In essence, Aldonza Lorenzo, the peasant girl, became the princess Dulcinea because Don Quixote believed in her to the degree that he did. I think the elementary school teacher believed in the five kids and they became what they were capable of becoming. The Dulcinea effect.

Believe in someone. Tarzan had Jane. Ozzie had Harriet. Charlie Brown had the little red haired girl. The story of Don Quixote de la Mancha and his princess Dulcinea is also about being courageous enough to have dreams and pursue them. Whatever Dulcinea represents, she is life enhancing and worth pursuing. I hope there’s a Dulcinea in your life, be it a person, a dream, a cause, or anything that you believe is worth believing in. I think you’ll be happier if you believe that strongly in someone or something.

At the end of the story, Don Quixote was ill and on his deathbed. He no longer believed he was a knight or that there ever was a Dulcinea. In an effort to inspire him, Sancho reminded him of Dulcinea, but he replied, “I was mad and now I am sane. I was Don Quixote de la Mancha, and now I am, as I have said, Alonso Quejana…” He dictated his will and died. Believe in someone. Believe in yourself. Dream big, and keep the fire burning. Sing it again. Sing it with me. “I’m Don Quixote, the man of la Mancha…”

From the book "The Happiness Solution:
Finding Joy and Meaning in an Upside Down World"

by Dr.Alan Gettis Ph.D.
© Copyright 2006
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