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Impossible things

Impossible things
Impossible things
Dr. Wayne Willis

Some things for me are impossible. I’ll never ride in a rocket to Mars or ballet in the Bolshoi Theater or touch my tongue to my ear. Not gonna do it. Impossible.

Some things that were impossible when I was a boy today are not only possible, but common. Take my 6-year-old smartphone. My thumb print turns it on. I can take a high-quality picture with it and send that picture instantly to almost anywhere. My phone can instantly give me verbal directions from here to there, give me the temperature there and let me talk to a human being there. I dictate into it and it instantaneously converts my words into print. I still can hardly believe that something held in my palm, weighing five ounces, can do all that and 100 things more. Smartphones now are as commonplace as microwave ovens and shoulder replacements. We marvel no more.

I like the Army Corps of Engineers’ mottos. They built Bunker Hill fortifications, the Washington Monument (tallest building in the world then) and the Panama Canal. Their motto: “First in, Last Out.” During World War II, they adopted the motto “The difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”

The Queen lectured curious Alice, in “Adventures in Wonderland,” about believing impossible things: “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This time last year, we would have dismissively rolled our eyes at an apocalyptic prediction of a new virus coming in 2020 that would kill 325,000 of us by Christmas and permanently alter the way we do school, church, shopping, dining out, vacations and funerals.

How casually and hard we draw lines between possible, probable and impossible.