Practically Preposterous

Pavithra Mehta
558 words, 20K views, 11 comments


"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!


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 can't believe that!" said Alice. "Can'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, in Practically Preposterous