Some time ago my favorite pen ran out of ink right in my hands. I knew it was coming; I had ample warning. I had watched it as it began to write in disjointed streaks instead of its usual silky-smooth curves. I had warning and several replacement pens of the exact same brand and model, but it was somehow sad. I had written many great things with that pen, and I was very comfortable with it. I’m not sure if watching the ink dry up, or finally having to accept the reality that it was finished, was worse. I think that no amount of warning can really prepare you for the fact that you are missing something. In fact I think the waiting is often worse than the happening.
So it was when my Uncle John passed away. Watching a man in his fifties suffer first with dementia then with early onset Alzheimer’s disease is not precisely on my list of happy periods in my life. I can remember a trip to the local Wal-Mart with John and my mother during which I was asked to escort him into the men’s room. Something about the way he confused the urinal for the sink, then forgot he had to use the restroom at all, really hit me in a powerful way. I remember being at the funeral, staring ahead blankly past the ornate Catholic depiction of Jesus Christ, and thinking that there was no point to my sorrow. I barely knew him until he was too far gone, and even as I had known him he was a constant source of sorrow. But it was the knowledge that I had not truly known him that opened the floodgates and let the tears flow.
The question I find myself facing is one of impossibility. How is it possible that you and I may watch the news without so much as a tear? How is it possible that a 14-year-old in Africa can feed his brothers and sisters when his parents die of the AIDS epidemic? How is it possible that my experience with my uncle John would not weaken my spirit, but rather that it would forge my conviction to the hardness of steel? But we must not concern ourselves with the matter of how, in favor of the knowledge that it happens every day. No matter where I go or what I do or see I will always believe in the impossible. We can all do something impossible if we try.
It’s time that we as humankind take responsibility for each other and ourselves. We cannot feed all the hungry, but it can be done. We cannot clothe all the naked, but it can be done. It’s time that I take a stand. If we start with one, and then another, and another, we can make the impossible happen. I believe in the impossible, not because I want to, but because I need to. I need to believe this way because it opens up my horizons to new things. I would call everyone who reads this to follow what they want most in life, it’s probably worth it.
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