No Dream is Impossible

Written by Michael Badnarik

When I was in college – oh, so long ago – I used to wake up at 05:59 every morning… literally, thirty seconds before the alarm clock was able to make a sound. I would collect my towel and toiletries and walk down the hall to the shower, which I always had to myself. Average college students are not awake until well after dawn, however I have never, ever been accused of being average. I would start the day, thrilled to be alive, wondering what new possibilities would present themselves in the next twenty-four hours. Irrepressible, youthful enthusiasm, unblemished by reality. That “joie de vive” would frequently manifest itself in song. “I did it my way”, “I’ve gotta be free”, and “C’est Moi” were often included in my repetoire. But I would always… always… start with my favorite song, “Impossible Dream” from Man of LaMancha, my favorite movie.

As you may or may not know, college dormitories are built to withstand decades of abuse from college students. The focus is less on “feng shui”, and more along the lines of “indestructible”. Therefore, the showers were heavy ceramic tile over cinder block walls. Not very pretty, but the acoustics were fantastic! Even a bad singer can sound better than average under those conditions, and I was a pretty good singer to begin with. I would become enthralled with the sound of my own voice, amazed with the clarity and intensity that I could achieve. Damn, I was good! There was obviously nothing wrong with my ego or self-esteem in those days. Occasionally, as I was toweling off, I would wonder if other people would be equally impressed, if someday circumstances presented themselves to require me to sing in front of an audience. It was just a thought.

Years later, I was on company assignment in New Jersey learning the new computer software that I would one day be responsible for. The vendor, ever eager to make a good impression, took my counterpart and me out to lunch. After a two-hour, alcohol-fueled meal at a classy four-star restaurant, most of the vendor employees were required to return to work. As VIPs, my buddy and I were told that we were done working for the day. The plan was to wait until 4:30pm when the other party-goers would return, and then we could really let our hair down.

It was a long, boring wait for our co-conspirators to return, and by that time the restaurant had live entertainment take the stage. It would be unfair to refer to these people as “a band”. There were three men in tuxedos, and a woman vocalist in a floor-length gown, all of whom appeared ready for a gala New Year’s Eve event, or a Hollywood awards banquet. They played (and sang) quiet, classical music… and because I was bored, I apparently started to sing along with the band, quietly, under my breath. One of my hosts, who had been consuming beer on the company budget since noon, pointed at me and shouted, “HEY! WE HAVE A SINGER FOR YOU OVER HERE!” I was instantly embarrassed, and tried to defuse the situation as quickly as I could. “Shhhh! Be quiet!” What surprised me was that the musicians were inviting me to come up on stage. “No! No! I don’t want to do that!”

And then… a tiny voice inside my head whispered… “This is the chance that you’ve been waiting for. This is your chance to sing in front of a live audience.” I resisted a little less. Then I asked, “Do you know Impossible Dream?” “Of course”, they said. “Come on up.” I didn’t know if I was going to embarrass myself further, but I did know… I would regret it the rest of my life if I allowed this opportunity to slip through my fingers. Moments later I was walking toward the stage. It was too late to chicken out now.

As I walked on stage, they handed me a microphone and asked me, “What key do you sing in?” As if I knew. “You play it, and I’ll sing it.” I missed the first intro, but found my voice the second time around. I was nervous as hell until… I heard my voice coming back to me through the speakers. I sounded even better than I did in the shower. “Hey! I can do this!” More relaxed now, I am focusing on the inspirational lyrics. This would not be a good time to forget the words to the song. But then it occurs to me. This song has a high note to emphasize the emotion. In college, I would always begin this song an octave lower to make sure I can hit the high note. Of course, “the band” doesn’t know this and I am wondering how the heck I’m going to get to the end without my voice cracking into a falsetto. But then… I HIT THE HIGH NOTE! Clearly, and with the appropriate intensity! Wow! The rest of the song is downhill from here, Baby! Big theatric finish, and then… nothing. A silence that seemed to last forever.

Suddenly, the people from my table were giving me a standing ovation. Everyone in the restaurant was cheering and applauding. I was prepared to do six more songs… but they wrestled the microphone away from me and thanked me for my time. Perhaps they didn’t want to be up-staged again.

To answer your question, I have never cut an album, and there is no “Best of Michael Badnarik” CD available from any of the record studios. Except for the shower, this has been my only singing venue. But for most of my life this story has served as an important life lesson. You never know what you can accomplish until you try. Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from striving for what you really want.

Here are the lyrics to my favorite song.
I hope they inspire you to achive more than you thought you could.
You never know until you try.

Impossible Dream (from Man of LaMancha)

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march
Into hell for a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
The fight the unbeatable foe
To dream the impossible dream


And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
To fight the unbeatable foe
To dream the impossible dream

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2 Comments

  1. Arthur Danu

    A beautiful story, Michael. The Impossible Dream is one of my favorite songs, too. Andy William’s cover of the song is my favorite version. I’ve been singing karaoke for well over a decade now, and there are some songs that I sing so well that it makes ME feel like the recording stars I’ve been trying to emulate, or the talented musicians and lyricists and engineers that produced those songs. That’s a real prize and a joy to my soul….singing just for the pure pleasure, regardless of what anyone else thinks. But it is gratifying when others appreciate your talents, too.

    I’ve always believed the teaching of St. Francis of Assisi, when he said that “Singing is like praying with twice the power!”

    Just wanted to say I appreciate your writings, and that I share in the joy you expressed so well in this piece. Be well!

    Reply
  2. Celeste

    That was great! You have more hidden talents we didn’t know about. 🙂 Most of your talents aren’t kept under wraps and in all the years we knew you were gifted in science! Ah but the arts. Glad you’ve never lost your venue or fervor for singing.

    Reply

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