One of my favorite quotes from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she 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. “
This year I’ve done many seemingly impossible, unfathomable things. And because of this, I know I am going to be able to do many more. This past Friday, 20 of us trooped through our woods to an old reservoir. For me and Doug, this is a sacred space. We come here to honor difficult moments in our lives and to celebrate joyous ones. And the day after Thanksgiving? We come to immerse ourselves into the fresh mountain water. I had never done it before. Last year there was at least 12 inches of snow and a layer of ice on the water. The previous year, well, let’s just say my relationship with cold water is worse than my relationship with time.
But this year I believed I could do this impossible thing of getting into the cold reservoir water. I had two pretty major surgeries in the past six months (the impossible and unfathomable things) and as a result of making it through them, I often feel pretty powerful. AND, that I can do anything, including getting into cold water. I demonstrated it many times, getting into our unheated pool all the way through the beginning of October. But this is late-November water, with a mucky, icky bottom. (Which is why I am wearing socks.)
We arrive to the edge of the water. All the under 30s, ran in and went under pretty quickly. I tried to go in, but just couldn’t dunk under. (For it to really count, you have to immerse yourself completely.) So I ran out. I tried again, but all the young guys were splashing around, so I ran out again. This time, Doug’s sister said to me, “Melanie, you have come too far. You have to do this. Get back in there and do it.” She was totally right. I had to do this. So back in I went. I joined Doug, his brother-in-law and one of the young men. We joined hands and we said the incantation, “Lord, your seas are so large, and our boats are so small.” They immediately immersed themselves. I needed another, my own private incantation, one I have uttered many times in the past six months. My courage welled inside me and down I went.
Taking the plunge can mean many things, from this literal description, to embarking on those things that seem impossible, but with practice become possible. I write this today, on the first Sunday of Advent, as I begin to prepare for my Advent Collage Calendar practice. Any kind of committed daily practice requires us to plunge into the unknown and to commit. For Advent, every day from December 1-25 I will make a small 5×5 inch collage and post it to my Instagram account and to this blog. You can subscribe to my blog and read the entries that way, or just come by when you feel like it. (Links to Instagram and to subscribe are on the left sidebar.)
Regardless, I hope and challenge you to find something impossible to do today, tomorrow, this week, this year. And the more you do it, you will find that impossible things don’t feel so impossible anymore.