The Art of the Possible

Books and stories are great but I love fairy tales most of all. I grew up thinking a prince did indeed find the glass slipper, slay the dragon and free the kingdom from oppression. Yeah, Richard Gere really did save Julia Roberts from a life on the streets. True story.

But even if it’s not a documentary, what a great movie. It reminds me of an Audrey Hepburn movie. She really didn’t make enough Roman Holidays. And Julia should have given us one more Pretty Woman.

In my appreciation of the Brother’s Grimm, I recently watched Disney’s retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Sure, I know it came out three years ago and most thought it didn’t meet expectations. Johnny Depp can’t be Captain Jack Sparrow in every movie. Lightning rarely strikes twice.

In Alice, Tim Burton had a tall order. If you’ve ever read the book, this is a tale with little structure. Movie scripts need structure. Movies have budgets and running time.

The point of Alice is that the book moves in all different directions. It’s supposed to. After all, Alice is chasing a rabbit, tiny doors, beasts to slay, and a vanishing cat.

Alice in Wonderland
Art from the original book, isn’t it creepy?

And the Mad Hatter is the Mad Hatter. He’s perhaps one of the best characters ever penned. Don’t believe me? Take a few of these quotes:

Have I gone mad?“ Asked Alice. ”I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.”

“Only those who are truly mad, believe these tales can be real. And why not? We’re all a little mad now, aren’t we?”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

But my favorite quote:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

This is a line which should be tacked up on every little boy and girls wall. We don’t think big enough anymore. Our society has sadly become the home for the petty and small. We talk more about what we don’t have or who has too much instead of the next big achievement.

Big things matter.

There is a reason JFK made the “To the Moon” speech. The president cast a vision. His words rallied not only the best and brightest but made the world watch. And guess what happened? America went to the moon. Great achievement happens when we as a society think big and set goals.

So, starting today, I’m going to write down my six impossible things in a notebook. I’ll try to do it everyday before breakfast, of course. For today, some of these involve time travel. But why not, time travel is supposed to be impossible. Here we go:

(1) What if we could go back and time to the very moment when Ted Turner thought of CNN and have another idea pop into his head? Eureka. There would be no CNN, FoxNews or MSNBC. Collectively, these organizations take all of us down a rung on the ladder just through osmosis. There is an easier way to do this without time travel. Why not simply change the channel? This year, I’m going to give it a go and say goodbye to Anderson Cooper and Big Bill O’Reilly. And Rachel, I have to say the same to you.

(2) According to the Body Mass Index (BMI), I’ve technically been overweight for years. I’ve always thought closing the gap was an impossible feat. I thought I looked good, ran hard, but I can never seem to get there.

I’ve made excuses. I’m big boned. Look at all that muscle (Sigh, not really but we all like to tell a good fairy tale, especially the ones we only tell ourselves).

Well this doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m going go back to the 1950s. Have you ever seen any pictures from back then? Americans used to be so small and lean. Now, we are just, well, it’s not lean. Lebron James dropped 40 pounds or so for the NBA season. Why can’t I? Instead of the ho-hum five to ten pound resolution, I’m going to shoot for the 1950s actor look.

It might be a little extreme, but I haven’t been at a 23/24 BMI in years. If you’re 6’2“ that means you have to weigh in at less than 190. If you’re 5’8” that means you have to try harder and weigh 157 pounds or less.

Hard to believe isn’t it? Yes.

Impossible? No, I don’t thinks so.

If you have the time machine, you can go back to your high school glory days. Or, just think about what people ate in the 1950s and change a few habits.

(3) What if we could get rid of all the pack rats on the planet? Look in the mirror. You are one. I moved like five years ago. There are still boxes in the basement I haven’t unpacked. What would happen if I walked down to the basement, picked up those boxes, and threw them in the dumpster? Would the earth spin-off its axis? I’m guessing if I haven’t bothered to open the box in six years, I’m not really going to miss what’s inside. But do I dare do it? Maybe, this is the year I take the chance. Live simple. I don’t need a third spatula for my grill anyway. But maybe somebody does.

(4) Wouldn’t it be great to think you are surfing the world-wide web and someone wasn’t tracking your steps, trying to steal your personal information or worse? As the world gets flatter, trusting cultures need to be on the lookout. Hopefully, the world gets this right. If the Pinkerton Detective Agency can beat the James-Younger gang, hopefully our best and brightest can up and make the Information Highway safe to travel again. Confidence in technology took a hit in 2014. Here’s dreaming we solve the problem or at least curb the bleeding.

And for (5), I’ll hope for a functioning government followed by (6) a way to feel like I’m getting ahead in my retirement goals instead of funding some Wal-Street trader’s next beach house. Yeah, I know a functioning government isn’t necessarily a good thing. But who really wants to work forever? Hey, a guy can dream big, can’t he? Just by doing so, I might get halfway there.

So, why not take the plunge and write out your impossible dreams? Anyone building a Perpetual motion machine out there? As for me, I also eat breakfast tomorrow. Perhaps then, I’ll think about slaying the jabberwocky.

Here are a couple of books out there about dreaming big:

The Magic of Thinking Big

The Obstacle is the Way