I did the impossible this week. I did a backbend.
Maybe you know me well and would agree that this is impossible to imagine. Or maybe you don't know me as well and think that a backbend hardly constitutes a significant achievement.
Either way, it was a moment I'll never forget, and it's no exaggeration to say that it changed my life.
I was wandering around the playground at recess earlier this week when I saw some students, including a pair of twin sisters, doing backbends.
From a standing position, they bent all the way down and all the way back up.
I joked with them that a backbend was no big deal and I could do one whenever I wanted. When they challenged me to do one, I came clean and admitted I had never done a backbend in my life and never would.
That was all these girls needed to hear. In an instant, they were surrounding me and encouraging me to try. I laughed again, assuring them that I was not built to perform a backbend, but they persisted, insisting I try. Eventually I agreed to attempt the first step - raise my hands over my head and look backwards - thinking this would placate them.
Instead, it emboldened them. Through a level of persistent positivity and a torrent of encouragement that I have honestly never experienced before in my life, they continued to insist that I try. They did not harass or taunt or tease. They simply expressed an unwavering conviction that if I tried, I would succeed.
I fell. They helped me up. I fell again. They spotted me, two girls on each side, wisely fleeing when I started to collapse. One girl took an elbow to the head and shook it off like it was nothing. Over the course of 15 minutes, I went from a man who would never do a backbend in his life to a man trying like hell to do a backbend because the positivity and encouragement of these girls had pierced my belief that this was impossible.
They had turned me into a believer.
Then I did it. Starting from a standing position, I reached back and continued bending until my feet were on the ground and my hands touched the ground behind me.
I couldn't believe it. I had done something that I had thought impossible just minutes before. I had thought it impossible for my entire life.
I've been walking on air ever since.
I know. It doesn't seem like much. And I've certainly done difficult and even seemingly impossible things before.
I managed a McDonald's restaurant full time while simultaneously attending college full time, (earning degrees at two different schools and finishing near the top of my class), launching a business, working part time in the school's writing center, serving in school government, and writing for the school newspaper.
Honestly, I don't know how I did it. I was just so happy to be off the streets and making my dreams come true that I would've done anything to succeed. The work seemed like nothing compared to all that had preceded it.
Even more impossible, I somehow convinced Elysha Dicks to love and marry me. And to keep on loving me more than a decade later. A woman who I desperately admired from afar but never dreamed of dating somehow agreed to spend the rest of her life with me.
Compared to those achievements, a backbend might not seem like so big a deal, but you would be wrong. The actual backbend might not be as momentous as my other accomplishments, but the way I had been transformed from a nonbeliever to a believer through relentless support and endless positivity was astonishing to me.
The way those girls encouraged me was inspiring.
They had gotten me to do something that I never thought possible. That many people thought impossible.
I'm never going to forget that moment in the grass beside the tree. I walked away thinking about all the other possibilities that I had closed off from my life, wondering what other impossibilities I need to tackle.
I did a backbend under a tree on a spring day, and now I feel like my potential is boundless.