A reader recently sent me an e-mail in which he griped about his “impossible situation.” I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder, because to me it appeared that his was an impossible situation with a lot of possibilities.
So what, exactly, is an “impossible situation”? More specifically, what does “impossible” really mean? Is it impossible to make a mountain move simply by having faith? That’s quite a challenge. If anyone could do it, it would probably be that Star Wars guy, Yoda. But I don’t know of any real person who’s mastered such extraordinary mind power.
Is it impossible to get the man or woman of your dreams to love you if he/she is already in love with – and maybe married to – someone else? (Shades of Dudley Moore in the classic 1979 movie 10.) Not quite like moving a mountain, but perhaps a close second.
Terminal cancer? The subject of miraculous healing is a surefire invitation to a heated debate. Many of us have known people who were told they had terminal cancer, yet survived and lived to enjoy many more healthy years. Have all of those cases been flukes?
All of which raises the question: When the seemingly impossible happens, is it God, luck, coincidence, or something else that is responsible?
God can presumably do anything, but God also helps those who “help themselves” – meaning those who take action.
As for luck – well, that’s pretty much random.
Sometimes we witness the impossible and refer to it as a coincidence. But I’m not sure there is such a thing as coincidence. Most of the coincidences I’ve experienced have been a result of actions previously taken.
Which leads me to the “something else” – that great metaphysical abstraction we refer to as human will.
The will to accomplish something – be it winning a sporting event or moving a mountain – manifests itself in something we call attitude.
Viktor Frankl was perhaps the most famous of all Holocaust survivors. He lost his mother, father, brother, and wife in Nazi concentration camps. Years later, he wrote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Okay, so Frankl had an amazing attitude under seemingly impossible circumstances. But wasn’t he lucky as well? Absolutely. I’m sure Frankl would have been the first to admit that he was a very lucky man, but he also was convinced that he could not have survived Auschwitz and Dachau had he not chosen to find positive meaning in his life.
Let’s consider the three possibilities you would have had if, like Viktor Frankl in the 1940s, you found yourself in a Nazi concentration camp.
Possibility No. 1: If you had a great attitude concerning the dire straits you were in, you still may not have survived without a good deal of luck.
Possibility No. 2: If you harbored an attitude of total despair, you surely would have been doomed, even if you had been fairly lucky.
Possibility No. 3: But if you had a positive attitude coupled with good luck, you would have had a shot at surviving. This, I believe, is what Frankl was getting at when he said that choosing one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances is the last of the human freedoms.
In all likelihood, then, the impossible dream is not impossible at all, at least theoretically. In my lifetime, I have been in far too many impossible situations that mysteriously became possible.
Meeting my wife was impossible. (Too long of a story to go into here.) My son coming into this world rather than dying at birth, as he almost certainly should have, was impossible.
For that matter, when I get up every morning and behold my little speck of the universe, it occurs to me that both the universe and my consciousness are complete impossibilities. Surely I am the most improbable collection of atoms in existence.
Whatever it is that arranged my atoms in such a way that I can reflect on my own existence, does it not seem reasonable that the same Whatever can make a brain tumor disappear? Or bring the perfect spouse into the loneliest of lives? Or cure a person with financial leprosy and guide him to great wealth?
I believe the answer is yes. And for me, that Whatever is the Eternal Energy of the universe.
Luck and coincidence are interesting abstractions, but a more meaningful abstraction is human will – the will to have power, the will to have money, the will to live. When you exercise your freedom to tap into the Eternal Energy of the universe, your life is not at the mercy of luck or coincidences. And though we may not understand it, it is that connection that allows us to go beyond dreaming the impossible dream – and actually live it.[Ed. Note: To learn how to survive and prosper during the turbulent years ahead, check out Robert Ringer’s powerful audio series Succeeding in a World of Chaos.