Humanity: Making The Impossible Possible

17 12 2011

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word impossible as; “something that is not able to occur, exist, or be done: a seemingly impossible task”

As far as we know about 700,000 years ago – or for the balanced argument 6,000 years ago when earth was created by God 😉 – the upright apes we now call humans  started cooking their dinner, a task that to the same group of people only a couple of generations earlier, would have seemed totally unthinkable, let alone impossible.

Yesterday I sent many texts, spoke to the girlfriend, received an email that offered me free money, watched two movie trailers, read the tweets of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry, Changed my profile picture on the book of face, played a mind numbing yet enthralling puzzle game, got a map up of the restaurant I’m going to with friends on Friday night, checked the BBC website, read the guardian, watched the goals from the football I missed over the weekend and took a photo of my girlfriends dog to see if it would work in FatBooth (it kinda did!).

FatBooth was not designed to work on Dogs!

I did all of this in one little plasticky, glassy case of emotion type thing, that we humans have come to know and love as the iPhone. If 2011 me had been able to tell 2006 me that I would be doing all that today, without even scratching the surface of my mobile phones abilities I would have concluded that a flat mate at uni had clearly mixed up my tea up with their ‘fruits of the forest’. I would also tell 2006 me to have less fun and do more work but that’s another story.

On July 20th 1969 man landed on the moon, a task that would never had been achieved had those who undertook it not believed in the impossible. Kennedy himself put it best 8 years earlier during a speech in Huston; “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

The one thing these events all have in common is that they have realised what was once considered the impossible. Throughout human history we have seen man triumph over adversity and unimaginable odds, be it over fire, the moon or even hand-held devices we have beaten the odds every time. We have seen throughout history how people have risen above their circumstances to change the world. It is time for us to rise above our circumstances and seek out the impossible challenges that lie ahead of us.

I’m currently reading Steve Jobs biography, so my interest was spiked when I came across the latest BBC tribute to the man who saved Apple on the iPlayer yesterday evening. Much of what I saw I have of course, like most people already seen, heard or read but as with all things Jobs you can’t help but be inspired by the man, love him or loathe him.

Much of what Jobs did was about taking the impossible or un-sellable and making it part of our lives. He truly believed he could change the world and make the impossible a reality. Many would argue he achieved both of those things on more than one occasion, despite his limited technical abilities. This got me thinking about the true nature of the impossible, what is it and does it really exist? If you look through the eyes of a guy like Steve Jobs, nothing is impossible, everything is in a state of change and everything is part of an evolutionary process.

Steve Jobs' belief in the impossible made the man and the legend

I can count glancing around my bedroom – and that’s if you don’t count the bedroom itself – over 100 pieces of technology that at some point in human history would have been unfathomable as a concept, many of them would have seemed impossible to my parents and grandparents when they were my age (a few of them still do). It makes me wonder; is the impossible actually there to show us how far we have to go and what we have left to achieve? I’d like to live in a world where the impossible becomes our guide, where we seek it out and attempt to over come it. I’d like to live in this world because I believe that by elevating our goals, we will in-turn elevate the end result, whether we reach our target or not. “What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.” Tony Robins

If you believe in and seek out the impossible then the highly improbable becomes inevitable. Once the highly improbable has been achieved, what was once the impossible is transformed into something that is within our grasp. For example, I couldn’t do any of the things I do every day on my iPhone if the mobile phone, the internet or any other little bits of technology I’m too stupid to understand hadn’t existed first. Humans would never have become domesticated in the way we have if we hadn’t learnt to master man-made fire or any of the other bits of tech that preceded or came after it.

What I’m getting at here is that everything is impossible until something happens, some sort of breakthrough that makes it possible, as Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it is done”. Lets say for example we’d like to use less of the worlds natural resources, I think that’s something we can all agree we’d like to do, but why not instead say we want to get to a place where we can continue to advance technologically without using any of the worlds finite resources? Seemingly impossible yes? It is my belief that if we set about doing what is possible with the impossible in mind, we could radically change the world. So what if we don’t reach the goal, we’ll still be better off than we are today. If the goal is to use no finite resources by the year 2111 for example and we fall short but cut the amount of resources used by 75%, or 50% or even 25%, I think that would still be something worth celebrating.

I’ve voted in two general elections since I turned 18, on neither occasion did I vote for someone whom I believed in, who wanted to achieve something radical, it would be nice to see that change but until we “norms” embrace the impossible, how can anything change? I ask you to embrace the impossible in your lives, who knows where you, or we for that matter may end up? “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” George Bernard Shaw.

I’ll leave you with one final thought on the impossible and getting back up from Nick Vujicic, an Australian with no arms and no legs. Impossible is nothing. To watch No arms, no legs, no worries, go to:

Nick Vujicic lecturing on the Impossible in Australia

“It should be impossible for me to get back up, but it’s not… I will try 100 times to get up, and if I fail 100 times, if I fail and I give  up, do you think I’m ever going to get back up? No, but if I fail, I try again and again. As long as I try, there is always a chance of getting up… and it is never the end, until you’ve given up. The simple fact that you are here should be enough to persuade you that you have a chance to get back up, there is still hope.”

Go Gently




One response

5 01 2012
DominoesFallingProds (@DominoesFalling)

Great blog post, this one is my favourite. Keep it up!

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