Quote of the Week: “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
Writing Exercise of the Week: You buy a used coat from St. James thrift store. You place your hand in the pocket and find there’s something inside. What is it and how did it get there? Write for 10 minutes.
On my desk is a frosted glass pig with bright pink wings.
The phrase “when pigs fly” is an adynaton (a-dinah-ton), a form of hyperbole or figure of speech which refers to something so extreme or crazy that will never happen, an impossibility. It’s used in reference to anything unlikely, but also anything deemed over-ambitious or “pie in the sky” (another adynaton).
We’ve all been told we can’t do things. We’ve been told to forget the big idea, the ambitious dream, the secret wish.
“Get back down to earth,” they say. “Be practical. Be smart.”
The likelihood or odds of success are slim to none, and they’re quick to point that out. Our own fear of being wrong (or being proved wrong after we’d been warned that we were wrong) is enough to make us choose the middle road, the safe path, the “right” path.
But what is there is no right path? What if it really is an open field, where you are free to wander and explore, and the other end of the field leads you to the same place as if you had stayed on the path? Wouldn’t that be more fun, less stressful, less judgmental? Wouldn’t it be more interesting, full of discovery and new things?
The real truth about doing the unlikely (or, better yet, the impossible) is that the only thing standing in your way is you. There’s evidence everywhere of people doing what once couldn’t be done. There are new companies, new technologies, new governments, new belief systems because someone was willing to walk into that open field and find a new path.
And you don’t have to save the world—just yourself. That’s where it always starts. You know at least one story of a person who did what everyone (maybe even you) thought was impossible. They changed their situation, they found the better job or the perfect mate, took the exotic vacation they always dreamed of. They lost weight. They got rich. They sold their book. They made the New York Times bestseller list. They didn’t listen to the people who said they couldn’t do it. They listened to the people who said they could.
If there is something you are hopeful about, regardless of how unlikely it may be, don’t go looking for people to reinforce the negative—there are plenty of those people to go around. Instead, find people who have a flying pig or two of their own. Find people who say, “Why not?” instead of “Cannot.” And if you’re feeling a little envious about people who have “beaten the odds,” don’t hang out in jealousy. Picture a flying pig of your own, and go for it.
Darien Gee is the best-selling author of six books, including three written as Mia King. Her books have been translated into 14 languages and are selections of the Doubleday, Literary Guild and Book of the Month Club book clubs. Her latest novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, is available from Ballantine Books For more information, please visit dariengee.com.