Monday, April 21, 2014

The Impossibility of Impossible is Impossible

So I came across this poster recently. I don't like it. It annoys me.

Maybe I’m still reeling and stinging from my most recent, major confrontation of Not Possible. Actually, I am. But that aside, humor me for a few moments as I rant, because this opinion does not stem from emotion like my annoyance does. This is one of observation and experience: the impossibility of impossible is impossible.

The Views of Impossible

There seems to be three distinct (but not exclusive) views on impossible. The first would be the “All Things Are Possible” attitude as displayed above. I most often see it in people who by one way, chance or another have been able to accomplish a deed(s) that has been deemed impossible, or are just too plain stubborn to let go. The second is the exact opposite. They’re overly pessimistic, never bothering to take risks or go after whatever it is they’d dreamily like to because “It’s all impossible”.

But, there is a third. They’re the ones who tried, and lost. They may or may not have started out with the opinion that anything was possible, but having been met with dead ends and burnt fuses after giving it everything they had and doing everything in their power to reach that impossible goal, there was failure. That leads me to my next issue...

The Problem of "All Possible with Ambition"

And there is my problem with the view presented in the photo above. The quote speaks as though only two of the main three types existed, but the reality is, impossible does exist. Big men fail too. Similarly, small men win (just take a quick look at the entertainment industry. I rest my case). Not everyone with gusto and ambition will be able to make the impossible possible because let’s just say it: the impossibility of impossible being impossible is quite simply, impossibleI’m not trying to take this quote by Muhammad Ali out of context either. Promise. I’m not talking physics and time travel like being able to chew water or hold a planet on your fingernail. I'm not even going to go into great detail on how many times the logic in the above statement trips over itself, such as naming the things impossible is and is not and then stating that impossible is in fact nothing - a state of being void of anything. Not going there.

In the context of goals and dreams, the above quote is incorrect. Failure is real. Impossible is real. People are so different, their lives never the exact same, and thus there are times when possible for one is frankly, impossible for another. Sometimes it’s impossible for both. There are so many variables. It’s easy for someone such as a decorated athlete or a young, naïve person who has known little of defeat to say something as such, but who’s to say that the one that failed had less of a drive and weren’t also fighting to change their world?

Take for example, the Olympics. Think of how many truly talented and great athletes are unable to make it into this prestigious event. I can assure you that most of them have just as much (some even more) desire and drive as the next person to succeed, but it is not possible for all of them to be able to do so. Or think of the kids you knew in school that were fantastic at what they did at a certain level but would never be able to make it to that tiny -1% of the best of the best in the world.

Sometimes, the power you have is not enough. It’s just that simple.

Impossible IS a Fact

With all that said, all I'm getting at is that impossible is a fact. Some things will just never be. Sometimes it will be because one was indeed too small and afraid to move, but sometimes it will also still be unattainable even with power and drive. I’m not saying you should abandon this overly optimistic view altogether, because if the succession would be worth it, why not go for it? The great thing about life is that sometimes, you will be able to reach that “impossible” goal. This kind of attitude is also great for cheering someone on in reaching a goal that is within their reach but they just need that boost of confidence to get them there. But this view cannot be treated as fact.

Let’s be realistic here; one must be careful. To be stuck in the mindset that there is no such thing as impossible can lead into an endless loop of chasing something that will never be yours, and as a result miss out on what you could actually succeed in. To be overly pessimistic is self-explanatory. Missed opportunities, poisonous mindset = very bad. It’s just not smart. To have tried and lost is in the same boat of difficulty though, as you are then met with the choice to either lie down and sigh or get up and find the next challenge to meet.

Theism and Failure

This opinion ties in with my theistic worldview, as I believe that there is a God who cares and has a plan for each life. Stuff happens. Things change. As finite beings we cannot truly grasp the plans of an infinite being, but if we care enough to listen and follow, life will be worth it. You’ll succeed, you’ll fall, you’ll fail, but why must all failure be such poison if it adds richness to life in some way or another? God knows what he’s doing, and most of the time we won’t, so failure is enviable. Yet often times failure is only our view on a situation that didn’t line up with how God’s going to work it out because: finite < infinite. This reminds me of the proverb, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

Whether you are of the opinion and attitude that anything is possible or your dreams are unattainable, at one point or another the reality of trying and failure will present itself. Humans, in their uniqueness and distinct paths will always encounter failure in this life, but failure does not have to be the end of all your dreams, and neither should one sit and wallow in self-pity at the fact that what they’d like to accomplish might not work. But at the same time, avoiding the loop of continuous failure at something that will never be is just as bad as never chasing your dreams. To say something is impossible is not always a sign of weakness. Often times, stating such is simply stating the reality that most are better off coming to terms with as quickly as possible. Yet, there is a bigger power at play here, and sometimes failure is only failure because we don’t yet see what role such events will play in the end result.

Though impossible is a fact, I personally am much more inclined to be of the mind, as Alfred Tennyson so eloquently wrote:

’Tis better to have loved and lost
Then to have never loved at all.

P.S. If you’ve made it this far and at least read most of my rant, I'm impressed. Tell me what you're thinking.


  1. I agree with you... sometimes people put their heart and souls on the line and failure ensues... it doesn't mean we are not destined to do other wonderful things that are possible.

    Sometimes we fight against what our Heavenly Father wants for us because we are so sure we know what we want.

    I'm one of those people... especially when it comes to falling in love again. I just want someone wonderful that wants to live life. Not some old boring guy that sits at home (most men my age that I know are so dull) ... what if that is all that is there for me... I guess as much as I despise being alone, I'd rather be alone :/ ...

    I rambelled ... sorry. This post was good and true... some things are impossible for a reason... I have to accept the other reason....

    1. Rambling posts deserve rambling comments. ;) Your issue in finding love is completely reasonable. Maybe you're meant to inspire someone to live life again?

      Thanks for stopping by, reading and sharing your thoughts Launna!

  2. this is great. I love how you fleshed it out like this, and explained every possible definition. I don't like it when people say too many things are impossible, and put God in a box. but it's also irritating when people say "YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IF YOU JUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!" and you know, go to the other extreme. not everything is possible in this life, but it's cool to look ahead at heaven where everything noble and good will be possible. :) thanks for this post! <3

    1. Right? Totally agree. Thanks Sarah! :)

  3. I might be the kind to have tried and lost, but I don't know because I haven't given up on trying yet. :-)

  4. I definitely agree with everything you said, impossible is a fact, and things do happen. We will fail at times, and we can also achieve our goals at times.
    I love your rants, they are so interesting and's nice to know that someone has the same views on things as I do, and that I'm not totally crazy, ha ha. :)

    1. Why thank you MJ. This reminds me of that quote by C.S. Lewis: "Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 'What! You too?...'"

  5. I like how your posts make me think. And I love that line of Tennyson's.


    1. Good, good, thinking is good. It's beautiful, isn't it?

  6. Replies
    1. I could totally agree with that. ;)

  7. The Tennyson quote is TRUTH! Yes impossible is a fact - but so is possible! It's so easy to get caught up in what may go wrong, that we forget what may "go right". What if it doesn't work, people ask? Why not ask "What if it DOES work"? You're right though - we do need to find a balance between the two. I think blind naivete can lead to pain...but I would always rather be blindly optimistic than cloudedly (is that a word?) pessimistic.

    P.S. thank you for that incredibly kind comment on my post about Beate :)

    1. I couldn't agree more! Actually your's and Beate's story is a good example of this. :)


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