Saturday, April 12, 2008

The "Impossible" Is Waiting in the Wings

I was thinking about how much we limit ourselves by closing our minds to what we don't yet know. I'm old enough to remember Dick Tracy and his two-way wrist radio, which seemed fantastic and impossible at the time. It doesn't seem impossible now, so it wasn't impossible then, but the increments of knowledge needed to create it had not yet fallen into place.

When I was a little girl, the sound of an airplane drew us all outside to watch with excitement and awe, as it was such an unusual event. Little did we know that not too many years later, the skies would be full of planes, ever larger and more sophisticated than the little bi-plane that so impressed us.

Some time later, we climbed up into the cupola above the attic of our big old house in Geneva, Illinois, to see the Hindenburg thirty-five miles away above Chicago. There it was--the enormous dirigible, long and silver, gleaming as it seemed to float there, not moving. We were so impressed. This was the future right before our eager eyes! But, before long, the dirigible suffered its terrible demise in New Jersey while the world watched in horror, and it was part of the future no more.

When I was still a kid, my family acquired a Franklin "touring car," a convertible four-door. It was "used," but to us was a marvelous machine. How excited we were when my father took us out for a spin, and we actually reached the terrifying speed of 37 miles an hour! Surely no one would ever dare to go faster than that!

One of the great things about living through several generations, is the perspective gained by seeing inventions come and go, wars begin and end, ideas go in and out of favor. The latest inventions and the biggest fads always seem so important, but are soon replaced by something new and become humdrum, or fade into obscurity. The newest thing becomes less meaningful the longer you live. Eventually it is seen as part of a long series of things, ranging from what we have already discovered to what we will discover tomorrow.

When I was small, everything that has since been discovered was already possible then, we just hadn't found out about it yet. So it would be ridiculous for me to close my mind to new possibilities in any area of life. I don't know what may be possible in the future, but I do know that the word "impossible" may be as obsolete as the dirigible.

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