“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
The first time I sliced open my elbow, it was with my own bone.
I can still remember the doctor telling me that my arm was going to be permanently frozen at 45 degrees and to ‘manage my expectations accordingly’. The moment when I realized, thanks to a wonderful specialist and my own sheer stubbornness, that I was going to be able to do wild things like conveniently put food in my mouth was such a rolling wave of elation and terror that I literally fell to my knees.
There’s something about being trapped in a certain mental view of the world. When the doors to that cage open, when the impossible becomes not just the possible, but the probable, it can be as terrifying as it is welcome.
I’ve never forgotten that feeling.
Something that I care about deeply when I write is that I try to create empathy for characters in impossible situations. Sometimes the situations characters face are literally impossible in the world as we know it and sometimes they are just so far beyond the characters’ wildest dreams that they feel impossible.
I know that it is easy to get frustrated with people who are not reacting with the overwhelming joy we think we would feel when presented with worlds we have only dreamed of. Certainly, I have characters that feel nothing but that joy. But there are also the others, the ones who are maybe truer to my own experience, who look at the opened cage door and pause.
There is power here.
Because after that moment of hesitation, after that first shaky breath…
The most impossible dream of all is that first step over the ledge, the joyous, terrified dive into the world beyond.