Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in The Hope Star-Journal.



Three-year-old granddaughter Zoë thinks I can do anything.

She thinks I can make the train through Columbus disappear when we are trying to cross the tracks to reach the Donner Park playground. From where she sits, perched in her car seat behind me in a long line of stalled traffic, the wait is unbearable and my inability to move the car forward is no more than hurtful, willful neglect of her needs.

When we walk by the empty, public pool near her house on a chilly spring morning, she asks me to take her swimming. When I tell her the pool is closed until summer, she looks up at me sadly, and asks again - evidently thinking I have the power to move the clock ahead six weeks.

When she is tired and hungry, and I struggle to get her mac and cheese cooked for lunch, she begins to whimper over my "refusal" to feed her.

The existence of "impossibility" is one of life's first, hard lessons.

The reality that those "big people" around you may have no magic is a close second.

For most of us, life's disappointing experiences have begun to destroy the magical world of our toddler days by the time we reach kindergarten. And over the next few years, the impotence of the adults around us to perform miracles will become more and more obvious.

Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny will slowly, but surely, disappear.

What most of us are left with by the time we enter high school is the stark reality, and somewhat frightening insecurity, of the "laws of the universe."

A Frisbee on the roof will not come down by wishful thinking. We can wait - maybe forever - on a random puff of wind to bring it down, or we can go get a ladder and do it ourselves.

A toothache will not go away without a trip to the dentist. We can fool ourselves for a while with pain-killing drugs, but masking the problem does nothing to eliminate the decay.

Lesson follows lesson, "reality" is confirmed by experience and, for most of us, the age of believing in the impossible is left behind like the flowers of summer in the cold snap of late autumn. We become too smart to believe in the impossible.

Yet, thank goodness a few of us never quite abandon our toddler days - never entirely quit the pursuit of the "impossible" - never let disappointment smother our imagination or our hope.

No airplanes, televisions, heart transplants or cancer cures would exist today without those who believed in overcoming the "impossible." No one would reach the top of Mt. Everest or land on the moon. No one would find the peace of religious belief or the strength to live in hopeful ambiguity.

Zoë does not have it all wrong. Impossibility is often just a matter of perspective. Possibility exists in places where we least expect to find it.

Even Grandpa can now and then accomplish the impossible. Just last week, for instance, he found her "binky" just in time for her nap, long after everyone else had given up hope.