I have two pet peeves around the common usage of the word “impossible,” and they seem to be opposites of each other. The first is people who say nothing is impossible and the second is people who say something is impossible when it actually is just hard or unlikely. Unclear? Ah, well, let me explain:
Nothing is impossible!
I hear this “nothing is impossible” from various lovely optimistic people. The problem is that they are wrong. Some things ARE impossible. I will give you some examples: Aging backwards (unless you are Benjamin Button), walking through a concrete wall, taking ash and turning it back into a living tree, etc. I think we could probably agree on many more examples of things that are impossible.
Some people believe in miracles and point to those as over-riding the rules of what happens to be possible, but I believe miracles are extremes but still follow the laws of physics and biology.
Nevertheless, if you were to get to know me, you would know that I am quite tenacious. I do not give up easily. And one thing I have learned is that VERY FEW things are impossible. To say NOTHING is impossible is utterly ridiculous and, as I have just explained, it is one of my pet peeves. However, very few things are truly impossible. So that brings me to my next pet peeve:
Sorry. I can’t do it. It is impossible.
I was on the phone with Purolator. I was expecting a delivery of a computer from Dell via Purolator. The lady said, “We can deliver it tomorrow.” I said, “Tomorrow is fine — you can’t do it today, right?”
And she said, “No, sorry.” And, had she left it at that, I would have been satisfied. But she went on to say, “It is impossible.” And… I just couldn’t let it go.
I said, “Okay, I have to tell you first off, I don’t mind if you deliver tomorrow. That is perfectly fine and reasonable. However, I object to your usage of the word ‘impossible’.”
“But it is impossible.”
I sighed. “It is not impossible, though,” I said.
“Yes it is,” she repeated.
I said, “Do you have the parcel at your office?” She said they did. I said, “Are there people there now?” She agreed that there were. I said, “Do they have cars that they can drive?”
She said, “Well, yes, but we don’t do things that way.”
And I said, “No. I understand. And it would be unreasonable for me to expect you to. I don’t expect you to. However, it IS possible. You see? We are talking about what is possible versus impossible.”
I don’t think she liked me.
So, this has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. People running around “optimistically” parading the incorrect notion that “anything” is possible when that is clearly a lie, and, at the same time, other people saying that things are impossible when they are clearly possible, but difficult or unpleasant. I do not know why this bothers me so much, but if you ever meet up with me socially, misuse the word “impossible” and watch me politely seethe.Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. - Alice Through the… Click To Tweet
Alice Through the Looking Glass quote:
“There’s no use trying,” [Alice] said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”