The Seemingly Impossible

This past Friday, I left my first-graders with a substitute and headed up to Kirksville, MO to attend a conference at my alma mater, Truman State University. It was a wonderful excuse to take a day off of work, make my grand return to K-ville, and engage in 24 hours of girl talk with my good friend, Molly, all while learning applicable strategies for how to be a better reading teacher.

While meandering around campus, reminiscing over past classes, professors, events, and boyfriends, I picked up a copy of the campus newspaper, The Index. After writing for The Index my first semester of college (in pursuit of my short-lived journalistic dream), I always had a soft spot in my heart for the publication. In the hotel room that night, I read through the issue, catching up on the campus’ current events. One particular story caught my eye: “Students Hike Home“*.

For those of you who chose not to click that link, the article details two students’ plans to walk home at the end of the semester, from Kirksville to St. Louis. The distance measures 188 miles. This will be a second attempt–last semester, Daniel got to 100 miles in five days, but became exhausted and called on his parents to rescue him from New London, MO. This time, Daniel claims, will be different. He’s been running a few times a week, and planned a couple of long hikes beforehand. He has a cohort this time–a female student named Elizabeth. Daniel and Elizabeth plan to carry food, first aid supplies, and sleeping bags. Last time, Daniel just dozed off in his sleeping bag in public areas along his path–the article doesn’t mention whether these plans have changed this time.

Why?? you may ask yourself. Well, he plans to collect donations for the Sierra Club. But, what caught my eye was the comment that “the trek will test his ability to achieve the ‘seemingly impossible,’ a notion he said he is always trying to challenge.”

After reading this article–to myself, and then out loud to Molly–I thought to myself about how I could never do this. Then, no, I thought, that’s not true. It’s that I would never want to do this. Then I began to wonder: Why?? Why would I never want to do this? Here are the reasons I came up with off the top of my head:

1. I hate sleeping outdoors.

2. I don’t like being dirty.

3. It would mess with my running plans.

4. It doesn’t seem safe.

5. It doesn’t seem necessary.

Then, I began to feel a little down on myself. How come I never have these sorts of adventures? Will I one day look back on life and feel regretful that I didn’t try to walk 188 miles? What fun, crazy things have I ever done? Nothing! Am I boring? Am I just a total conformist? Why don’t I feel the need to tackle the “seemingly impossible”? These thoughts haunted me for a few days. (Well, okay, that was just Thursday night, so maybe just one day. But still.)

On my run this morning, I pondered those words: “seemingly impossible”. And here’s what I decided:

We each have our own definition of the “seemingly impossible”. These are things that seem out of reach, would require some sort of major lifestyle change, and would benefit us in some way. For me, walking 188 miles isn’t necessarily “seemingly impossible”. It does seem out of reach, it would require me to change my lifestyle, but I don’t really see what benefit it would have to me.

I felt a little better about myself when I thought about the “seemingly impossible things” I have accomplished in my life.

1. Losing weight.

2. Running a half-marathon.

3. Running a half-marathon in under two hours.

4. Meeting someone, falling in love, and getting married.

What‘s “seemingly impossible” for me right now?

1. Getting 21 first graders to grade level in reading and math.

2. Living an anxiety-free life.

3. Buying a house.

Although these things seem scary and over-whelming, (and, well, impossible) looking at the list of “seemingly impossible things” that I have accomplished leads me to believe that I can accomplish these things. But, just like I had to set goals, make changes, follow through, and hold myself accountable for my attained goals, I have to do those same things for my current goals.

Here’s my question to you. I encourage you to comment below and let me know what you think. What “seemingly impossible things” have you accomplished in the past? What “seemingly impossible things” are you currently tackling? What “seemingly impossible things” seem truly impossible to you? How can we help each other to further our accomplishments?

*Kudos to Scott Henson, IndexStaff Reporter, for writing an intriguing article