The narrowing path of possibility

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By John Hubbuch

Life can perhaps be measured by possibility. When I was an infant, the possibility must have seemed almost infinite. Every day I experienced something new even though my world was limited to crib and playpen. I just didn't know how limited it was.

My sweet spot of possibility was between the ages of 5 and 10. My parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed them. My possibility toggled between cowboy and third baseman for the Milwaukee Braves. Fame and fortune were almost certain.

But soon enough my world of possibility began to contract. I learned that cowboys weren't much in demand, and I had to acknowledge that I was afraid of the curveball. It slowly dawned on me that my family wasn't very rich, and that might restrict my possibilities. I was scared of girls and was kind of a nerd, so ladies man was out.

I was good at school, and I loved history, so writing a fresh take on the Civil War was a possibility, until I realized I was not very interested in footnoting. Footnotes are big in scholarly writing. That's why I write a column. I realized the possibility of becoming a lawyer, just not a high-powered one. My possible Supreme Court spot went poof when I didn't make law review, and then I eventually realized I didn't really like most of my clients or fellow lawyers, so massive legal success was probably out.

There is satisfaction in realizing possibility. I have a great wife and family, and lots of grandchildren. A few friends tolerate me.

But I got old, and now I have come to realize that my possibilities are becoming increasingly limited by my age, income, priorities and preferences. I won't be going on safari or see the Egyptian pyramids. I won't run another marathon. I won't own a purple Corvette. The path of possibility is narrowing.

But I will continue to study history and philosophy, play whiffle ball with my grandkids, golf with my sons, and dine with my friends. I just might go kayaking or snow-shoeing. There's a good chance I might go barging in France. I just might write another column on the achievement gap. Maybe I'll attend a grandchild's wedding. There remain a lot of possibilities, just not as many as there used to be.

But it makes me a little sad that so many possibilities along the way are now foreclosed to me. I do miss believing I had at least a small possibility of being a cowboy. That would have been awesome.

I will continue to enjoy my realized possibilities — and search for new ones forever.

Well. Not forever. Death is the only non-possibility. Alas, it is a certainty.

But there is the possibility that it might be a while before all possibility is extinguished. 

I sure hope so.

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments