A Word in Your Language

609 words | 3 page(s)

The word “impossible” functions as a constant barrier in our lives on multiple levels. When something cannot be accomplished, when a goal cannot be realized, when a dream cannot become a reality, it is dismissed as “impossible.” Accordingly, impossibility forms a dichotomy with its opposite possibility. When something is possible, it is apparently without our grasp to realize. Possibility gives us hope. Impossibility, in contrast, is a strict line of demarcation, a place that we cannot go. But what happens when our dreams appear to be impossible? How can we make the impossible possible, or in other words, how can we think of the impossible in a way that it could be possible?

Many times, impossibility is forced upon us. We are told by others that another alternative is impossible, it is forbidden, it is unachievable. I have experienced this type of impossibility in my own life. As a high school student, I failed the subject of physics. One instructor in particular enjoyed promoting the discourse of impossibility as opposed to the discourse of possibility. He repeatedly told me that as a result of my grades I would not graduate from high school. The dream of completing my high school studies was, from his perspective, a total impossibility. If I had just accepted his judgment on what is possible and what is impossible, there would be no sense for me to continue with my studies. I should have just packed my bags, left the education system and find another pursuit in my life. But I was somewhat allergic to this authority figure telling me what and what is not possible. This was another form of allergy, an allergy to the limiting of possibilities, to the proclamation of impossibility as though it were a metaphysical certainty that I could not complete my studies.

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How does the impossible become possible? First, we have to challenge the discourse of impossibility. When someone says something is impossible, we have to question his or her authority on the matter: how does this person know that the given X is possible or impossible?

One strategy to overcome this propaganda of impossibility is to take the impossible as a challenge. In other words, when someone is saying that something is impossible what they may really be saying is: to realize this goal, this will require so much work, this will require so much time and effort, this will require learning this and learning that, of mastering this skill and mastering that skill. When we see this mountain of obstacles before us, some people, depending on their character, take the easy route: they declare the entire project to be impossible. What we need, in contrast, when the impossible is forced upon us in this way, is to view this mountain as a challenge: yes, it will require enormous labor, sacrifice and effort to overcome what you call impossible, but it can be done. I will dedicate myself to making the impossible possible.

In my case, I was fortunate to be able to see through the discourse of the impossible and instead formulate it anew as a discourse of the challenge. I challenged myself to pass my physics class and thereby graduate high school. I dedicated myself to my studies and what was impossible suddenly became possible. I completed the course and now study at Boise State University. This experience taught me a profound lesson: do not accept the discourse of the impossible. Do not accept when other individuals tell you it is impossible to realize a certain goal. Instead, take the impossible as a challenge. Challenge yourself to realize these goals and the impossible will become possible.

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