Practically Preposterous

Posted by Pavi Mehta on Mar 12, 2011
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"Well, I was just inventing a new way of getting over a gate - would you like to hear it? " 

"Very much indeed," Alice said politely. 

"I'll tell you how I came to think of it," said the Knight. "You see, I said to myself 'The only difficulty is with the feet: the head is high enough already.' Now first I put my head on top of the gate - then the head's high enough - then I stand on my head - and the feet are high enough, you see - then I'm over, you see?" -- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

And when was the last time you came across something as Practically Preposterous as that? :-) Just realized right there that that's a Paradox. Practically Preposterous. (And I think I've learned somewhere along the way to pay attention to paradoxes. They put the truth before the explanation and its up to us to get from one to the other. And the journey that starts in perplexity usually ends in some form of wisdom).

Practically Preposterous ... that's kind of like Mission Impossible. A Mission being something you set out to Do. Impossible being something that just Can't be Done. 

Practically Preposterous ... and that's actually a double paradox. Because the word Preposterous comes straight from the Latin word "praeposterus" -- a curious conjunction of "prae" meaning "before" and "posterus", meaning "coming after." So put them together and you've got the before coming after. And that could mean doing things backwards -- or it could just mean starting from where you want to get to. It could just mean Living the Dream instead of Dreaming a Life. And maybe that's what he meant by Being the Change.

He was -- if you think about it -- a pretty preposterous man. Gandhiji. Because everyone knew you exchanged blows to fight a battle to win your peace until he came along and placed peace before the battle and the battle before the blows (and the whole point was that you never got that far). Doing things backwards. Practically Preposterous!


And there's another preposterous man I know. He is 86 years young now. He said he wanted to cure blindness. He was 58 at the time. His clinic had 11 beds. The world had 45 million blind. Everyone knows you need money. To do things like restoring sight. First you make a lot of money then you treat a lot of people. But this man had it all backwards. He said lets treat a lot of people first and let the money come later. He did and it did. And the funny thing is he treated (and still treats) most of his patients for free. Practically Preposterous!


And there's a preposterous couple I know. Who six months into their marriage flew to India to begin a pilgrimage in search of Good. And everyone knows when you get married you settle down and build security, work hard to establish stability. And eventually you search for Good when you've saved up enough vacation time. But these two had it all backwards. Decided to abandon the security of the known, the stability of the familiar, decided to throw three sets of clothes in a backpack and ride a one-way ticket by foot together from the self to the selfless. Going within and going without. Finding Good Now. Practically Preposterous?


And I am wondering now about all the other preposterous people in the world. The men and women we've never met. The ones who lived when the world was flat and the sun circled the Earth. The ones who had it all backwards then -- and turned it around for the rest of us. I'm wondering about all the people who've looked at something with their heart hard enough that their heads stop wondering how and when? start working Now and then -- it works. No not overnight. Not without hurdles. And not without mountains beyond mountains. 

But maybe once the foot has found its path, for a fleeting second lost its fear- maybe the biggest barriers (the ones we create for ourselves) are broken with that Beginning ...

Maybe part of the problem is we don't prompt ourselves enough towards faith in the preposterous. Maybe it's time then to start cultivating the Red Queen's practice...

'"I ca'n't believe that!" said Alice. "Ca'n't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes. 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 younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Six impossible things.
Your Time Starts Now :-)

--Pavithra Mehta

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Comments (7)

  • madhur wrote ...

    Siz impossible things .... this is loads of inspiration! I am thinking about it seriously.

  • ripa wrote ...

    Love it! Always so refreshing and inspiring to read Pavididi's writing...thanks for sharing! :)

  • pratibha wrote ...

    good humor, and i guess my response is make the impossible possible.

  • Pancho wrote ...

    1. We will erase the imaginary lines men draw in the dirt. No visa required to be on your cosmic home.
    2. Every single human will practice to be in receptive silence and participate, one of these days, in a free-flow-collective-whole (read massive) humankind meditation.
    3. Every single human will have healthy food.
    4. Healthy entertainment will follow.
    5. Nonviolence will be the norm to address personal, family, community and planetary conflicts.
    6. Humans will choose love over fear honoring diversity at the surface level and unity at the heart level.

    Practically Preposterous! :-)

  • Aditi wrote ...

    I love this! Thanks for putting it back up. I love the way it's written and it's definitely a lot to think about!

  • Chloe wrote ...

    Thank you for sharing this!!!

    Much of this rings true for me :) I am up to 5 Practically Preposterous things so far today.

  • Lavanya wrote ...

    Inspiring writing! Love the way Pavi has written this, and feel like thinking with my heart right now :)