Nothing is impossible.
My challenge this week fell to Cab.
There’s something absurd about the concept of anything outside of biology being impossible (men will not be birthin’ no babies anytime ever). Even the most superficial reading of history will show that nothing is beyond possibility where humans are concerned, for both better and worse. Cures for diseases. Atomic fission. Things that have always existed wait to be discovered or simply understood, standing in plain sight tapping their foot in anticipation. It’s common for people to mistake ‘difficult’ for ‘impossible’. A lot of things are difficult, including life and biophysics, but navigating the details underlying either is far from impossible. Time, experience, patience. It’s all very possible.
I grew up a history geek and due to my grandparents’ participation in WWII (and my reverence of them), I became a WWII history geek. My geekery endures, this December marking the 60th anniversary of the abrupt end to our neutrality. Consider for a moment these faces. It would’ve been difficult to imagine at the time that a few months short of a decade hence, the majority of those young men would be dead in a war started by the man they were listening to when that picture was taken. Difficult, but not impossible given the long and distinguished record of human conquest. History is full of young men thinking they’re immortal right up to the point where someone proves them wrong. Equally difficult to imagine is the scale of human suffering those eyes were on the verge of seeing first hand. Difficult, but not impossible. Phrases like, ‘It could never happen to me,’ are muttered by people incapable or unwilling to acknowledge all the “me”s who’ve endured similar “it”s throughout time. I muttered that phrase for many years, as did a number of friends recently interred at Arlington. The impossible happens with astonishing frequency.
And yet ‘impossible’ continues to be thrown around with impunity. It says a great deal about the person saying it, for what they’re really doing is proclaiming human intellect and imagination inadequate to the task at hand. My own experience with the word has involved people over the course of my life deeming any number of personal aspirations impossibilities rather than goals worthy of time and effort. I give them too much credit by thinking that they might have been trying to save me from disappointment. It was as if they were claiming ownership of the wind that they were clumsily attempting to remove from my sails.
My life is a roster of the so-called impossible made possible. I’ve used the collective lack of faith in my ability communicated regularly to me growing up as kindling. The archives attached to the vanity project that is this blog documents to some degree the resulting bonfire. At the risk of repeating myself, I feel sorry for people who think in impossibilities, but I’m grateful for them, as well. They’ve kept the fire burning, most importantly when even I was tired of the heat.
If I had children, I’d find a way to tell them every night before they went to asleep that nothing is impossible. I’d plant that seed in their mind so that in the inevitable event someone used that word in their presence, their subconscious would remind them of the absurdity attached to the word and how the worthiest of goals are those that are ‘impossible’.
Sir @ August 18, 2011