I've been thinking a lot about possibilities in the last couple of weeks-- from Constantina Tomescu-Dita and Dara Torres, to my shock at running a big PR for me, to a group I was a part of this summer about the role of spirituality in social justice work, and they have all been making me think about what I (or any of us) hold as possible. What we believe possible is usually less than what we are capable of being or doing. We hold back with people around us (in both work and family situations), thinking "I can't be really open with _____ because of x or y reason." Maybe that's true... but maybe that's a limit we're placing on the situation. I definitely thought there was a speed I was capable of going, and that was just as fast as I would ever get. I'm not saying that Tomescu-Dita needs to start looking over her shoulder just yet, but it's made me really question my assumptions about my running, and by extension, anything else about me.
One of my favorite books is called The Art of Possibility, recommended to me several years ago by my best friend. In the first chapter, they demonstrate how we see the world frames our possibilities-- when our frame is narrow, our possibilities narrow simultaneously. They suggest asking, about whatever situation presents itself, "What assumption am I making, that I'm not aware I'm making, that gives me what I see?" (You can actually read the first couple of chapters from the link included.) I assumed that I couldn't run as fast as I did on Saturday--look what happened. I had some crazy assumption that people who were meant to run long distances didn't get knee injuries. Tomescu-Dita spent three months out of the last year recovering from tendonitis in her knee. I assumed, when I got rejected from a poetry class in college, that there was no other way to enter the writing world. This suggested otherwise. I assumed my running would probably go downhill after 35 or so--this runner just won the Headlands 50M at 50 years old. (Read her blog carefully for why she's even more inspirational, challenging "what is possible" on a daily basis.)
Again, my point is not to suggest that we all start training for London (although perhaps more of us should than we realize), but to question--what are the limits we place on ourselves and how do they keep us from connecting to each other and our infinite possibilities?
To quote from a rather famous opener of possibilities:
"If we did all the things that we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." (Thomas Alva Edison)
Let's go be astonished.