While champagne was being toasted, and the fireworks were being admired I sat at home. The 2017 celebrations came and went, and I was left to face a New Year with a new list of resolutions.
One of those resolutions was that I was going to self-publish. Better to have a book out there at my financial expense where I can be compensated for my costs and even make money than to leave a manuscript to sit idle in my hard drive. So I drove myself hard to accomplish my task. Why did I do this? Because if I can’t fulfill my own self-promises who can I trust that will? No one.
It is believed that the ancient Babylonians were the first to make New Year resolutions, in an effort to start the year off on the right foot, they promised to pay off debts and return borrowed farming equipment. The Romans made promises to the God Janus, and Judaism and Christianity later spread the practice all over the world.
I’m guessing that about 60 percent of Americans make them. By the end of the year, 90% will have dismissed their goals as impossible, just in time to start over.
The Oxford dictionary (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/impossible) defines the impossible as something ‘not able to occur, exist, or be done.’ Technically, for anything to qualify as such, it must defy one or all of the laws of logic, physics, or contingency, but we are far more liberal in our everyday use of the term.
Our culture, the media, and the field of education have pushed our ‘can do’ attitude to the extreme. We have emasculated the impossible with how-to books and ten-step guides, autobiographies and happily ending fairy tales, marketing slogans and corny gimmicks on greeting cards. We have plastered our walls with posters of idols, heroes, and politicians urging us on with a confident ‘Yes we can!’
Yet, we make yearly resolutions with the full expectation of not keeping them. So why do people lie to themselves? And to others? Promising to attend, promising to buy, promising to support when their words mean nothing?
We dismiss our promises, goals and dreams with the same spontaneity with which we proudly claim that, anything is possible. We speak without thought. And in the late night lulls of our lives, we console ourselves by flipping through history books for stories of other people’s impossible feats.
The dichotomy of our thoughts does not surprise or trouble us, for there is a fundamental difference between our own stories and those of our role models: in theirs we already know the ending.
Looking forward when the ending is unclear takes courage, sometimes folly, but mostly downright determination and obstinacy.
There is an alternate definition to the word impossible in the Oxford dictionary, one I much prefer. It is: ‘very difficult to deal with.’ Impossible is not nothing; we are wrong to trivialize it. But impossible is not final either; we are wrong to fear it. Impossible does not contradict logic, physics, or contingency; those we can change. With enough self-mastery, practice and discipline, the impossible is only what you believe, or don’t believe, it to be.