What is the first thing you remember? The first thing I remember is the birth of my younger sister when I was three. Not my own birth. Thank goodness!
“Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.”
I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the Canadian television program “Big Ideas” a few weeks ago. It seems in this sometimes secular age we are not supposed to admit that we have faith in something—but this definition, by a Jewish scholar and Rabbi wrapped it up quite neatly for me. Rabbi Sacks said that “Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” I love that. We are capable of believing no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also said that “nothing interesting is probable.”
The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. My computer’s thesaurus comes up with a few more pithy synonyms for probable, such as: likely, credible, feasible, and plausible. In other words, probable has its feet firmly planted on terra firma, but still wants to hedge its bets.
On the other hand, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And I have found that wonderful if hackneyed saying “anything is possible” has so many delightful derivatives. Here are just a few, from the wise to the famous to the philosophical:
Anything is possible as long as you have the passion. ~ Guy Forget
Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. ~Liza Minelli
Here’s proof that if you live long enough, anything is possible. ~ Barry Manilow
Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen. ~ Corin Nemec
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury
Try changing the word possible to probable in any of the quotes above, and the meaning is just not the same, and not nearly as inspiring.
Possibility reeks of hope and aspiration with words like: option, opportunity, potential, and leeway, with a little risk and chance thrown in for good measure. You cannot quantify possibility; you just have to believe in it.
My favourite “possible” quote is found in the words of the Dalai Lama ~ “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Do you believe in the probable or the possible? Is faith the defeat of probability over possibility?
“Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” ~ Ray Bradbury
I am not really a science fiction fan, but Ray Bradbury was not just a science fiction writer. I am not proud of the fact that I am not a science fiction fan; it is just that my imagination is sometimes not pliable enough to stretch that far. I mourn the loss this week of this prolific writer, whom I laud as a brave and creative soul.
In my much read paperback copy of Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing”, he stated, “I have learned, on my journeys, that if I let a day go by without writing, I grow uneasy. Two days and I am in tremor. Three and I suspect lunacy. Four and I might as well be a hog, suffering the flux in a wallow. An hour’s writing is tonic. I’m on my feet, running in circles, and yelling for a clean pair of spats.”
The first chapter in his book is called the “Joy of Writing” and the first words in that first chapter are these: “Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them.” His advice to writers—look to your zest, see to your gusto.
His book was fifty years in the making, his advice both wise and practical. He says that he is no “yogi, feeding on kumquats, grapenuts and almonds…beneath a banyan tree”, but presents the truths that worked for him. As a writer, I am naturally drawn to his book on writing, his advice a feast, his prose dessert for the soul.
In memory of Bradbury, pick up a book or two of his and relish his zest, enjoy his gusto. I have a friend who reads “Dandelion Wine” as a spring ritual every April. I may just follow suit.
Mr. Bradbury, I say thank you. And good night.