The Voice of Possibility
by Jennifer Paros
I read an article about an Australian woman who gave birth to twins
prematurely; they were born at 27 weeks. The girl was fine but the
boy was declared dead by the doctor after twenty minutes of
attempted resuscitation. The mother unwrapped the baby and laid him
against her skin, held him and talked to him for two hours until he
began showing signs of life. He seemed to gasp for air; the doctor
dismissed it as a reflex action, but when the mother fed the baby
breast milk from her finger his breathing normalized. Soon he
opened his eyes. And what seemed to be The Impossible became
Each of us has dreams, thoughts, and ideas – some of which are
shared and some of which remain purely our own. And part of that
stream of thought is one that flies in the face of realism, common
sense, or proof. It is the thought of pure possibility that can
help determine and define our path, and help us find the opportunity
to offer our greatest good to others.
In the case of the Australian woman, she wasn’t consciously standing
up for the voice of possibility, yet her instinctive actions of
holding and nurturing the baby, speaking to him of his life, his
sister, and what would be coming for him all did. Aware or not, she
was affirming the possibility of his hearing her words and receiving
We applaud those who fly in the face of collective agreement,
challenging the status quo: the spontaneous remissions, the
scientific breakthroughs, the breaking of world records. We speak
of these as wondrous and applaud the audacity of those who redefine
what is possible. But when it comes time to claim that voice of
challenge within ourselves − the voice that accepts no limitation
other than as defined by our interest − we waver. Yet it is this
voice and the act of bringing it forward in full expression that
makes us cheer. It is bearing witness to the affirmation of the
Voice of Possibility that touches us when Susan Boyle sings or
Michael Phelps wins his eighth gold medal.
Perhaps the feeling within us that something is possible even
though denied by popular opinion (or even ourselves) is the key to
us sharing our most valuable asset with the world.
Illustration by Jennifer Paros - Copyright 2010
In 1976 a book entitled Son-Rise by Barry Kaufman documented
the author’s severely autistic son’s journey. Raun, who was eighteen
months old at the time, was diagnosed as autistic and retarded and
it was recommended he be institutionalized. But instead, the author
and his wife developed an at-home, intensive model for working with
him. By the age of five, Raun was no longer considered autistic and
was attending kindergarten.
There was no reason for the Kaufmans to believe it was possible for
their son to speak, make eye contact, and rejoin the world. There
were no case studies reflecting evidence of the possibility at that
time. Yet, they allowed themselves to act from their heart’s desire
and disregard the “impossible”. And it was this action that led
them to contribute the best of what they had to offer both to Raun
and to the greater community.
Seeking evidence is a sure way to become untethered from our dreams
and desires. Evidence only reflects what has been done or
witnessed, not all of what can be.
And in the arts – writing specifically—it is easy to become burdened
by statistics that do not speak to the ongoing possibilities. But
part of being human means experiencing what was once perceived as
impossible becoming possible. And the desire for this kind
of expansion is built into each of us in our own unique way.
We are meant to witness these breakthroughs in perception, these
changing ideas of what is possible. It is how we roll.
“Impossible” has already been revealed as a changing status. So,
let us deliberately create the expansion ourselves, by allowing our
heart’s desire to override impossible every time, redefining
possible in the best way we can.
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Jennifer Paros is a writer,
illustrator, and author of
Violet Bing and the Grand House
(Viking, 2007). She lives in Seattle.