I believe in possibility. My belief in the power of possibility has grown as I’ve grown older. My first child was my first contact with a baby. As I spent hours feeding her, carrying her, watching her eyes trying to focus on my face, I realized, with a shock, that human beings are only a bundle of possibilities. Nerves and sinews and synapses are aligned and waiting to achieve the possibilities bound up in them. Laws and societies offer a person shelter and a frame work within which he is legally able to work toward his possibilities, and parents can offer a scaffolding of education, love, encouragement, a healthy environment that the child can climb, but everyone gains the top, or fails, by themselves. I’m still working on this myself. My last child’s departure for kindergarten ignited a fire of possibilities in my brain; I am committed to being a mother, but that is not all. I have become that most unstable of creatures: an over-educated mother with time on her hands. I am not finished. There are possibilities open to me yet.
Possibility is what we have when we have nothing else. It’s akin to hope, but more specific and requires more action. Hope is spiritual; possibility is opportunity even when it doesn’t come knocking. I see it every time I interview disadvantaged, seemingly neglected students for a small college scholarship program. I see possibility fulfilled and renewed as I watch these students work and fight against obstacles like never enough time, never enough money, and family members trying to hold them down in their dying neighborhoods. They use the scholarships to launch themselves out of South Dallas and go on to shining success in college, internships and travel abroad programs around the world, and stable lives as lawyers, artists, business owners, and teachers.
The enormity and power of possibility keeps reappearing in how I interpret the world around me. I reach for it as I talk to my young daughters about the nature of God. Confused by the rules and regulations of their religion, they ask: did God make my table, did he make trucks, did he make ice cream and stars and mosquitoes, why did he make mosquitoes? Searching for an answer that would satisfy their curiosity, stem the head-swimming blitz of their infinite questions that makes me feel as if I’m in thought-labor with no time to catch my breath, and give them a platform of understanding that can grow as their knowledge of science, religion and society grows, I tell them, “God did not make you or your table or the sun or the dirt, but he did make it possible. Evolution works, men and women work to further technology and art and science, and you will work too, and God provides the spark of possibility. When you get to the bottom of who, what, when, where and how, God might be the why.” Hopefully this will hold them at least until they take physics.
My belief in possibility has come to include religion, child-rearing and the nature of mankind. I believe that education, good parenting, God, the rule of law and a just society all afford possibility, but sometimes all we are left with is ourselves, just pure, naked possibility, and the possibility of what comes next.
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