According to the Chinese horoscopes for 2012, it is the Year of the Dragon. But, if you are under the sign of the dragon, the year does not look all that great. You are warned to drive carefully, and are apparently “prone to accidents, small ailments, losses in gambling and speculations.” You are supposed to avoid partnerships, and romance is unstable—so much so that it is not a good year for a dragon to get married. Your Chinese horoscope is based on the year you were born—so if you were born in 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or the year 2000 you are a dragon.
I was born in the year of the snake, and after reading my Chinese horoscope (in the Toronto Star) for 2012 was feeling quite disappointed until I read the dragon’s plight for this year. Then a thought occurred to me—I am not Chinese, thus the whole thing is moot. I am going to stick with being a Taurus, on the cusp of Aries—so whichever sign is supposed to be having a good day, I adopt that sign for the day. Truth be told though, I do not put much faith in horoscopes.
I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the 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 this, no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also stated that “nothing interesting is probable.”
The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in my new book called “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. The book was a Christmas present from a friend, and I have to say I was very complimented that she thought of me as a “thinker”—at least that is how I am going to take it—rather than someone who needs help in this area. 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. As an adjective, the Encarta Dictionary says that it means “likely to be true, although evidence is insufficient to prove or predict it.”
On the other hand, to me, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And 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 scientific:
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – Dalia Lama
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
If you believe in yourself anything is possible.-Miley Cyrus
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
With self-discipline most anything is possible. –Theodore Roosevelt
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’s synonyms reek 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.