“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.”

— Pearl S. Buck

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I took my granddaughter, Cheyenne, to see something I had told her about.  Chey is fascinated with the idea of fairies.  On one of my early-morning walks, I had spotted this formation in the center of an ornamental cherry tree:

I had showed the picture to my granddaughter, catching hold of her vivid imagination and telling her, “I think it may be a fairy house!”

Several weeks later, when Chey and I took a walk through the park, she wanted to see the “real” fairy house.  I lifted her up and brought her to eye level.  Without missing a beat, she thrust her arm into the hole and began feeling around for fairies.

“I don’t think there are any in here,” she remarked, “only bugs.”

Now her very adult grandmother could only stare in amazement as the fearless fairy hunter groped blindly in the hole in the tree.  ‘Only bugs,’ I thought.  That would be enough to keep my arm out of that hole!  But kids are fearless.  They are driven by their dreams.  Their imaginations give substance to their dreams, and they act without considering that bugs might be icky — or might bite.  Cheyenne’s fairy hunt did not produce a fairy, but it did remind her grandma that not all holes are full of scary things and not all scary things bite.  It took the enthusiasm, inexperience, and love of adventure that belongs only to the innocence of childhood to bring the lesson to light.

How many inventions that we all take for granted began as the crazy dreams of visionaries?  How many very adult and very rational people tried to convince the dreamers to think instead of dream — to live within the boundaries of reality.  The Wright Brothers endured ridicule and criticism for thinking they could make something heavier than air take flight.  Early explorers were considered heretics when they posited that the world was round and sailed off toward the edge prescribed by the common knowledge of their times.  Electricity harnessed for use by humans?  Anyone who has seen lightning wreak its damage knows how insane one would be to hold such a belief.

Perhaps what sets inventors apart from the rest of humanity is the way they nurture the child that still lives within them.  Perhaps our society could learn a lesson from the way they encourage their inner children to dream the impossible with enough certainty to make it happen.

Perhaps we all would benefit from listening to the children — the ones entrusted to our care, and the ones that still lie hidden at our core.  We should encourage them to dream, encourage them to believe, encourage them to risk, and encourage them to act.  We should tread lightly in order not to crush a single dream.  We should remove from our vocabulary the word, “impossible.”  We should replace it with the word, “possible” or “potential” and never forget that impossible things are dreamed into being every single day.  All it takes is a child.