My father, James Salisbury, died in 2003 of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (better known as SARS) while living in China. He was one of the first Americans on record to die of the disease that took a hundred lives (over 3,000 cases reported). As a result, his death got a lot of media attention. As the nominated family spokesperson, I was interviewed by every local television station, many radio stations, and all the local newspapers. His death received national attention as well, and I did interviews for the Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, and Good Morning America, as well as the Harvard Crimson (my father received his Master’s degree at Harvard), and other random outlets. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind few days from the time of his death until his memorial service.
One reporter who interviewed me also attended the funeral and did a follow up story. After hearing my father was a member of the Peace Corps, taught English in China, and created a plan called “The Freedom Bomb” that would use literacy and education to liberate third world countries from poverty and oppression, the reporter called my father “loveably quixotic.”
I’m not going to lie, I had to look up quixotic in the dictionary, but it basically means exceedingly idealistic. It described my father completely. He believed in world peace and freedom for all. He believed in living in full expression of self, and encouraged his family, friends, and even complete strangers to live creatively and believe in a world where anything was possible. Living and thinking that way made my dad happy.
This world needs more lovably quixotic people. We need more dreamers. We need more people who believe that wrongs can be righted and sadnesses can turn happy. We need to turn idealistic thoughts into realistic thoughts, and then we need to act on them.
Don’t think small. Though you may not achieve all the dreams you set out to, you’ll likely find simply pursuing them brings you happiness. You’ll find a sense of fulfillment on your journey knowing your dreams aren’t sitting in a lonely box labeled “Someday.”
This experience taught me other things as well. I share my thoughts about why some ideas spread in the TEDx talk.