Every day, we all have conversations with ourselves about what is possible and what isn’t. There are lots of things that are impossible. We can’t live without something to breathe. We can’t fly without some sort of assistance outside ourselves. Those are just a couple of examples of the impossible. Yet as we continue to think about this the waters get murkier.
So here’s a question: “When everyone thought the world was flat, was it?” Seems pretty simple to say “no”, the world is round, and was round. I think a better answer is “It might has well have been flat, based on how people treated things.” Circumnavigating the world seemed impossible. Most people believed that it was. Seems pretty silly to us now since we can see earth from space, and people circumnavigate it every day. We orbit it because it’s is a ball, and not a circle.
Before the 1950’s it was impossible to run a mile in 4 minutes or less. Currently Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj holds the record of 3:43.13, which has stood since 1999. Now it seems like anything lower than 3:40 isn’t possible. Of course, until it is.
What do you think is impossible in your life? Is it impossible for you to do better with your money? To make more? Save more? Be different? Surely all of those things are more possible than running a fast mile, discovering penicillin, or breaking the sound barrier (October 14, 1947).
I’m going to contend that a bunch of what keeps our personal lives from changing is our belief that something just isn’t possible. We habituate ourselves to the idea, and as pattern making humans, find ways to reinforce and perpetuate those beliefs.
Several years ago I had an experience that really made me look at what was possible, and what wasn’t. It changed my thinking.
I was participating in a drug trial to lower the age for the “shingles” vaccine. Seemed like a good thing to do. One of my grandmother’s had shingles and it was awful. I thought it would be a good thing to do to participate in the study, and it was (I got the good stuff, not the placebo J).
Here’s the fascinating impossible yet actual thing that happened: I needed to have blood drawn before receiving the vaccine and several weeks after. Both times I had the same phlebotomist. She was one-armed. She did have an elbow joint and a “stub” on that joint that she could move.
I don’t know what the story was. Whether it happened after she was already a phlebotomist or before. It wasn’t any of my business. I was frankly pleased that I was able to squelch my urge to offer to help her. She was efficient and effective without my help, which, on my tiny slippery veins is most often not the case.
What I do know is that for her, being a one-armed phlebotomist was more than possible. And that’s the point. Whether she was one-armed and decided to become a phlebotomist, or she was a phlebotomist and became one-armed, she made the decision that the two situations together were attainable and she was going to do it.
Most of us would not consider that a possibility. It would be too hard to learn, too hard to get someone to hire us, just plain too hard. And yet she did it. She probably had other choices, as we all do, but something stirred her to do the impossible.
Somehow, if we lose something like a hand we sit up and take notice. And yet not being in a good place with our money may be just as challenging in the long run. Was this courage on her part, or necessity or both? My phlebotomist did not let the word “impossible” stand in her way. So what would stir you to courage or necessity or both?