What’s impossible?

Sydney Harbor
Sydney Harbor

My wife has spent the past 90 minutes looking up vacations to Australia.

We don’t have much in savings right now. I’m in school and working only part-time. She’s a nurse and makes good money, but we live in a pretty expensive area—our tiny one-bedroom apartment eats up a solid one-third of what we pull in.

Simply put, we aren’t vacationing in Australia anytime soon.

But that hasn’t stopped her. I used to think she was crazy for looking up vacations to exotic locations, some only accessible via for-hire sailboats or by hitching a ride with Saharan nomads. So she switched to looking up cruises, which are cheaper (marginally). I told her it still wasn’t going to happen.

Then she found that cruise to the Bahamas—three nights, four days, two stops, $160 per person.

Simply put, we are vacationing in the Bahamas soon.

All this taught me that I shouldn’t expect things not to happen just because they don’t seem feasible here and now. That seems like a silly thing to say. Only children and dreamers think like that, right? But I definitely have some stories—stories that prove the old adage, “There is no point in using the word ‘impossible’ to describe something that has clearly happened.”

I once wrote a letter of recommendation to the White House asking them to let two of my reporters backstage at President Obama’s second inauguration. I didn’t want to write it. When the girls told me that had no chance if I didn’t sign off, I told them they had no chance even if I signed off. I wrote it, sealed it, sent it, forgot about it.

Six weeks later, they were backstage at President Obama’s second inauguration.

I remember a friend of mine who felt stuck in the suburbs. He dreamed of doing something different. He wanted to change his life—give up technology-dependence, work with his hands, talk face-to-face with people from a culture he could barely understand. All this despite next to no life experience, hardly any cash, and hundreds of people who expected nothing of him other than to run the corporate gamut and live the suburban dream, hopefully paying off his six-figure, private liberal arts education.

Right now, just a year later, he’s teaching math to school children in rural Malawi. He’s started a nonprofit and built dozens of homes for the poorest of the poor.

I could go on and on about stories like this. Literally for days. They have much to teach me, and us. But right now I think I’ll leave it at this: We definitely, maybe, might be vacationing in Australia soon.

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