impossible doesn’t get to make my acquaintance
One summer I read a book about a man who completed the first-ever solo and unsupported trek across Antartica. It was a strange book to read in the heat of summer. It was also strange that I didn’t get tired of reading a book about a man hauling 400 pounds on his sled across blinding snow with little visibility. He trekked for weeks, just a few days shy of two months. There wasn’t much to see; the days held the same goals; and he spent as much time in his head as he did traveling across vast Antartica. I was intrigued by the tension between a human’s extreme goal and the intense elements at the bottom of the world. Collin O’Brady crafted the story well in his memoir The Impossible First.
Impossible wasn’t just about a never-before-journey. Impossible was intimately acquainted with Collin when they first met in a hospital bed in Asia. While backpacking around the world, Collin was in a fire that burned most of his body and threatened that he’d never walk again. The expedition isn’t just about an unbelievable record; the journey is about not yielding to obstacles.
It’s a story that sticks with you and now anytime I spend time in snow I think of The Impossible First. And it makes me wonder what I’ve accepted as impossible in my life. What obstacles am I yielding? What dream have unintentionally let go?
If we’re not careful, impossible sneaks into our lives.
For his journalism class, Sam was given a snow day assignment to take some outdoor pictures. Sam set the scene of an arctic adventure. We were looking through his shots, and I felt impossible bullying its way into the forefront of my mind.
In the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to run because I’ve been exhausted. I was sick in December and thought it was lasting effects. Then I thought I should just ignore it and push through. Next I found myself completely wrecked after running. And finally I found my body simply shutting down in the late afternoons of ordinary days, insisting on sleep.
It is not a surprise to those who know me well that I am completely frustrated by this. I have a plan. I work the plan. I become a runner. This is how it is supposed to go.
My friend Cathy sweetly nudged me to consider that it may be stress. There’s a lot going on in your life, she reminded me. I need these reminders. Adopting older kids from foster care has desensitized me to the stress of “a lot going on.”
Another friend reminded me that when we are new to something, we often don’t know what to pay attention to. Becoming a runner is about more than following a plan. In fact, it’s not completing the plan that makes me want to be a runner. I want to be a runner because I like knowing my body and heart are physically fit. I want to be a runner because then I’m motivated to make lots of other healthy choices. I want to be a runner so I can hike to captivating places. An experienced runner knows to pay attention to energy levels; he encouraged me to do the same.
I’m not sure what the root cause of my exhaustion is. I do know that I pull on my snow pants and boots and as I traipse around my backyard with my happy puppy I can decide that impossible doesn’t get to make my acquaintance.
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