It’s Your Job To Do The Impossible

There are  a few kinds of people, I’ve come to realize.  Some people are happy to live lives within the possible.  People who follow all the rules and fit into wherever they are, or find a place to fit.  Fit what they do, fit the kids they have, fit their budget.  Everything neatly worked out.  These people aren’t looking to do the impossible, they’re looking to create a life that is beautiful in its own subtle, subjective way.

I totally respect these people.  But this post is not for them.

Are you one of those people?  Then please don’t read on, because this post is not for you.  This post is for the people who, in some corner of their hearts (whether lived out or not) want to accomplish the impossible.

So, please leave, dear, “possible person”.  This post will do nothing.

It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Okay, they’re gone.  Now I can say what I really want to say.  Ready?

I don’t respect such people.  Because you know what?  Accomplishing the impossible is what we were all put on this earth to do.  Each one of us, unique in our own ways, able to do something that no one else can do, something that’s never been done, and that never will be done in the same way ever again.

And this doesn’t have to be big, grand things.  It could be the way we treat others.  I’ve seen people who simply through generosity of spirit have changed the world around them.  A generosity of spirit that to all of us seems impossible to keep alive, and to them perhaps once was impossible as well.  But they achieved it somehow.

Or it can happen in even smaller ways.  The way we overcome our fears, or our inhibitions, and then use them as strengths.

And of course, the impossible can be grand, glorious, humongous.  Like a rhinoceros flying through the fields, it scares us, frightens us because it seems impossible to tame.

Starting a business.  Writing a novel.  Creating a community.  Tapping our creativity in ways no one else has.

We all have that “impossible” goal buried deep within us.  It doesn’t have to be our life’s mission (although more often than not it is at least an indicator of it), but it is defined by one thing: our belief that it simply cannot, will not happen.  Or our hope that it will happen to us instead of because of us.  Spiritual people often use this as a trapdoor to escape from their fear.  “If God wants it, it will happen.”

I see these people everywhere, I talk to many of them, the people who want to do more, to accomplish something in their lives, but see it as unattainable, as far away, as something that is like some mirage in a desert, visible but not real.

If you are a person who read past the first few paragraphs and got here, I hope you know what I’m referring to.  I hope you know what I mean.  Because if you don’t, you should go back and do some introspection, since we all have this within us, unless we’ve somehow overcome it.

Most people spend their lives putting these impossible things to the side.  They work on them half-heartedly.  They’ll start their novel then walk away from it.  They’ll think about starting a business, but they’ll look for every reason not to accomplish this impossible feat, from lack of investors to not “knowing the right people.”

Even worse are the people who need to make truly life-altering decisions.  The ones that must make the changes in their lives in order to be truly fulfilled, in order to live a life that is real to them.

I’m talking about people who, perhaps, are in an abusive or irreparable marriage and who stay anyway.  I have known such people, mostly women, who allow themselves to consistently be dragged back to a horrible spouse, and who can’t imagine a life without this person.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to see.

Or people who are addicted to drugs, people who need to move from the city/home/place they reside in, people who feel stuck in a religious community for various reasons.

All of these, in the minds of such people, are situations in which rectification is impossible.  They believe they simply live partially tragic lives.  Or they try to minimize the true pain they are in.

The point is: they know what they truly want, what would be a life that would be beautiful to them would be, but they think to even entertain a solution is impossible.

A person in a religious community that is damaging to him imagines being ostracized, unloved, and completely alone.  A person in  an abusive relationship imagines their child growing up without a father or mother.

The same goes for the person who is not wishing to escape, but to build.  The business-dreamer imagines he cannot achieve his dream without making his home go bankrupt, his children destitute.  The potential artist sees all the others around them who have tried and failed, heard the statistics about failure in the industry and don’t even try.

And then there are people like me, the self-designated revolutionaries, the people who want to change the world, in our own way.  I want to change the Jewish world, and then the world at large.  Nothing else will make me satisfied in life, and if I don’t try (I’m not talking about success here), I know I will go to my grave a broken man.  It’s in my blood, it’s who I am, and I know many others like me, although they are afraid to admit, afraid to see it, would rather do “quiet revolutions” in their own “careful” ways.

Every single one of these people have one thing in common: the impossibility factor.  The belief that whatever their dream, whether it be escaping a poisonous life or creating one that has meaning, truth, and mission behind it (AKA living out their dreams), is absolutely impossible.

They have good reason to think that such aims are impossible, quite often.  As with the potential artist, the statistics can often be scary, and true.  They’ve probably never done a statistical poll on revolutionaries, but I imagine they would have an even smaller rate of success if polled throughout history.  We all know the statistics about what growing up in a one-parent household can do to a child.  Leaving a strict religious community can truly mean ostracization and failure in the secular or differently-religious world.

In other words, the impossible in their minds is impossible for a reason: it is impossible.  It is likely that they will fail and become miserable wrecks.

But what all this logic and all these statistics don’t take into account is one thing: our uniqueness.  Our total and utter separateness from the rest of humanity.  Statistics mean absolutely nothing in the face of one person.  He’s by definition a statistical anomaly, his own person, able to defy the impossible.  We are one in 7 billion, do you really think that statistics have any bearing on us?  In history, over 101 billion people have lived.  So we are one in 108 billion.

And if you believe in God (or, at the very least, in souls), then it logically follows that God put you in this world to accomplish something no one else can accomplish.  Your soul is so utterly unique, so utterly like no other, that it is meant to do the impossible.

There’s a reason that your heart speaks to you constantly about that impossible thing.  There’s a reason that you can’t stop thinking about it or that when you try to tune it out it comes back whenever you have a moment to yourself alone, with just your thoughts.

In other words, it’s like this: you have no choice but to do the impossible.  You must do the impossible.  You must live it out, and you must not let anything stop you.

And there will be moments of failure and times where it all seems like it will never happen.

Never mind.  You will keep going, you will move forward like a soldier because you are one.  You are God’s soldier, living the life he has laid out for you.

But the beauty of this war is two-fold: first of all, it’s a war you want to fight, it’s a war that will enliven you.  One in which any enemy that falls is truly evil because it is the voice that whispers “impossible”, the voice that stops you from living a life of truth and reality and one that’s 100% your life.  One in which you are not defined by winning the entire war, but by the fact that you fight each battle valiantly.

Second of all, it’s a war where the One who can do the impossible, the One who is above the realm of possibility and impossibilty, is on your side.  Imagine fighting a war with a magic wand that clears the path through all your enemies, that allows you to fly over them and wipe them out with a single wave.  Imagine that this wand itself is unnecessary because all that matters is the belief that you can clear that path and fly in the air because you believe in the One Beyond.

There is no reason to imagine.  There is no reason to play pretend or create metaphors, for this is the reality of life, more real than any statistic, more alive than any fear you have inside of you.

It is solid, it is true, it is built into the fabric of reality and implanted in your soul.

All you need do is say, “Yes” to it.  Say “yes” to the impossible, to the unwinnable war, to the undefeatable enemies, to the dreams that soar above reality.

You are on in billions.  Your very DNA is built differently than every other human in the world.  You have no reason at all to think that the rules that apply to others apply to you.

Now take a moment.  Listen carefully to that voice, the one that is fearful and shaking.  The one that says, “No, no, don’t do it.”

I know you have it, and it’s talking about something specific.  Listen.

I’ll wait.

Have you heard it?  Good.  Now go into the abyss of that fear and live out the life you were always meant to live.

Otherwise, you can join the people at the top of the post, the possible-livers.  The mediocrity-dwellers.

But I don’t think you want that.  And the proof is that voice.

Go.  God is waiting.






14 responses to “It’s Your Job To Do The Impossible”

  1. Zerach Moshe Fedder Avatar
    Zerach Moshe Fedder

    Yep, the voice. Damn voice. If it wasn’t for that voice, I could have stayed at my job as a Technical Writer.

    And if my ship never comes in and I don’t wind up changing the entire world, perhaps I will be satisfied with the changes I made in myself and the bits of chessed I left behind.

    Perhaps I’ll ask them to chisel on my grave stone “At least he didn’t stay in technical writing.”

    And to my holy technical writing brothers that stayed on to write the manuals that nobody ever reads. You made a living and perhaps had no other choice and perhaps that was your tikkun. I do not wish to belittle your choice … Perhaps there was no choice . . . perhaps….

  2. Zerach Moshe Fedder Avatar
    Zerach Moshe Fedder

    And to all you mediocrity-dwellers out there….

    L’Chaim! Thanks for all your begrudged support. And please forgive our arrogance in our thinking that we are somehow better than you because of our insane aspirations.

    L’Chaim to all our tikkunim!

  3. daniel.saunders Avatar

    This was a good post, but I’m not sure how to respond. Maybe I’m not in the right mood to be inspired? My depression is REALLY bad right now. Bad enough that I had to leave work after only an hour today today because I was just not functioning. I guess everything seems impossible right now.

    The point is: they know what they truly want, what would be a life that would be beautiful to them would be, but they think to even entertain a solution is impossible.

    It’s hard to know what I want. I guess to me, right now, a beautiful life would be having a few friends, a community I’m comfortable with and, eventually, a wife and kids. I’d love to be a published author and a talmid chacham and a few other things, but ultimately those aren’t all that important to me. I’m someone for whom perfecting the life is more important than perfecting the work/world (you’ve mentioned reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; if you’ve read his book To Heal a Fractured World he talks about this, and comes down on the side of perfecting the world. Ah, well). But right now those things (friends, wife, kids etc.) really do seem impossible.
    I’m not sure if that’s the right kind of answer. It doesn’t feel revolutionary.

    then it logically follows that God put you in this world to accomplish something no one else can accomplish

    I find it hard to feel this. I can’t imagine I could do anything no one else could do.

    it’s a war where the One who can do the impossible, the One who is above the realm of possibility and impossibilty, is on your side

    See, this is my big problem. Because lately I look over my life and I find it harder and harder to believe He is on my side. Because I had Bad Things happen in my childhood and then I’ve had mental health problems of varying severity virtually all the time since my late teens (sixteen long years). And the Bad Things didn’t stop happening. So lately it’s hard to believe He is on my side. And I’m not one of those people who just stops believing in God because Bad Things happen. So I wonder if I’m really on His side. Sometimes I feel pretty wicked.

    The rational part of my brain knows this entire last paragraph is irrational and wrong. And yet it feels so right.

    I spoke to a rabbi about this. He agreed with the rational part of my brain that this is mainly about the Bad Things from childhood warping my perception of God, not about me or God. That I’m not a bad person and He’s not a bad God. But, as I said, the rational part of my brain is broken and the emotional part (which is doing overtime) disagrees.

    So, anyway, what I’m trying (badly) to say is that this post is inspiring. But I don’t know how to open myself up to being inspired and moving on. I just can’t believe I’m anything special or that G-d is interested in helping me. Any ideas? (No pressure, seriously.)

    Btw, I was looking for a pretext to email you recently, but I guess I’ve said most of what I would have said here. Hope all is well with you.

    1. Yosef Werner Avatar
      Yosef Werner

      Sounded like you’re in a hard place. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Greg Lauren Avatar
    Greg Lauren

    hey Elad. i just started this website to take Judea and Samaria wines that are already in NYC… and make them popular all over the country. (some of them are rated 90 points and above by various wine publications)

    it’s been 3 weeks since launch. at the moment, it seems quasi-impossible. i’m trying to get known by a few large publications but so far no one is biting.

    i’m sitting at 2am, reading your blog post. for some reason, i just got a weird feeling that everything might pan out. 🙂 (if you’re curious about the name, check the About Us page. explains everything)

  5. Miri Meshchaninov Avatar
    Miri Meshchaninov

    To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause…

  6. Miri Meshchaninov Avatar
    Miri Meshchaninov

    I recommend “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander

  7. Miri Meshchaninov Avatar
    Miri Meshchaninov

    “The person who rigorously maintains the clarity to stand confidently in the abundant universe of possibility creates an environment around him generative of certain kinds of conversations. We come to trust that these places are dedicated to the notion that no one will be made wrong, people will not be talked about behind their backs, there will be no division between ‘us’ and ‘them’. These environments produce astonishing results that can take people in wholly unexpected directions, perhaps because all their gates are open — inviting us to play in the meadows of the cooperative universe.”
    “The Art of Possibility”
    Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander

  8. Yosef Werner Avatar
    Yosef Werner

    So, how does someone figure out what their impossible job is? This is not a rhetorical question, I really need to know. Drawing has dominated my entire life, and no matter how tired or bored or frustrated I get with it, I can’t let it go (and not for want of trying.) Last March I gave myself 6 months, until this Yom Kippur and the first day of fall, to figure out my mission/purpose/vision with regard to my art. It has been a productive 5 months, with me developing personal guidelines through thought and reading for HOW to approach my art, in keeping with the contemplative mindset I’ve worked on since my divorce, leaving my more-religious community and my new marriage. Interestingly they’ve proven excellent for living as well as drawing. But now a month out from my deadline, I don’t know WHAT to draw. They’re are some things I lean towards but either I start and putter out, or I can’t bring myself to start at all. I’m not convinced it’s fear. Maybe I’m just too tired and bored and need something new. All constructive suggestions welcome.

    1. daniel.saunders Avatar

      I don’t really have an answer (I think you saw the comment I deleted). This is an article I’ve read a few times and might be somewhat helpful. But it sounds to me that you have a good idea of what your job is already, you just need to focus it somehow. Good luck finding that focus.

      1. Yosef Werner Avatar
        Yosef Werner

        Thanks for the reference Daniel! Funny thing is, if you had suggested this article to me a year ago, I would have blown it off because I didn’t care for exercises like these. I now realize that was because then I didn’t take seriously what I actually thought and felt. As I’ve learned to validate my ideas and emotions, they have provided both perspective and courage. I look forward to working through this assessment.

  9. Marvin Falz Avatar
    Marvin Falz

    Thank you for this most wonderful writing.

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