A Healthy Disregard for the Impossible- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Happiness is a healthy disregard for the impossible

When I was a student at the University of Michigan, I went on a summer leadership course. The slogan was “a healthy disregard for the impossible,” and it’s an idea that has stayed with me ever since. It may sound nuts, but I’ve found that it’s easier to make progress on mega-ambitious goals than on less risky projects. Few people are crazy enough to try, and the best people always want to work on the biggest challenges. We’ve also found that “failed” ambitious projects often yield other dividends. Believe it or not, the technological innovation behind AdSense, which, as I mentioned earlier, has paid out over $30 billion to partners, was the result of a “failed” more ambitious project to understand the Web. The team failed at understanding the Web, mostly, I think, because they were distracted by their work making advertisements amazingly relevant. -Larry Page

I attended a presentation at my job on last week. I listened intently to a three hour presentation by Scott Regan Founder and CEO of ACHIEVEIT on how to bring WOW into our organization and lives. It made me think about a lot of things but mostly I left with the thought to how do you balance the act of having a ‘healthy disregard for the impossible’ and crazy. I have not settled all of those thoughts yet but one thing that I am certain I am ready to embark on some of my dreams! The impossible is possible.


Exploring Intangible Anodynes- Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD

Intangible Anodynes Boyace Van Harlan Jr., PhD


For the past month I have been reading a book by Eliot Perlman entitled Three Dollars. I believe that Mr. Perlman benefits from the perspective of living part-time between two continents, in two major cities. He lives both in New York City and Melbourne Australia.

And he is the national bestselling author of Seven Types of Ambiguity. I am sadly almost finished with the novel Three Dollars and I ran across this beautiful sentence about ‘intangible anodynes’. The sentence reads: Intangible anodynes, the words run out of steam the steam that won’t come with you from the bathroom and out into the street. That sentence took my breath away and I started thinking about ‘intangible anodynes’.

What is an anodyne? In medicine before the 20th century, an anodyne was a drug that was believed to relieve or soothe pain by lessening the sensitivity of the brain or nervous system (Greek ἀνώδυνος anōdynos < ἀν- an- ‘without’ + ὀδύνη odynē ‘pain’). It was essentially an analgesic.

Some definitions restrict the term to topical medications, including herbal simples such as onionlilyroot of mallowsleaves of violet, and elderberry.

Other definitions include ingested narcoticshypnotics, and opiates.[1]

Certain compound medicines were also called by this name, such as anodyne balsam, made of castile soapcamphorsaffron, and spirit of wine, and digested in a sand heat. It was recommended not only for easing extreme pain, but for assisting in discharging the peccant matter that occurred with the pain.

That definition leads me to this beautiful poem by Emily Dickson.

Emily Dickson wrote:

The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering,

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

One interpretation of this poem is that the requests of the heart are arranged in a hierarchy or order of importance; the first request is for pleasure, but the remaining requests ask for relief from pain. The pain increases as the poem goes on; this is the reason that the remedies to relieve the pain become increasingly extreme, with the final request being for death. It is God who has the power to grant relief from pain. The implication is that He has the power to inflict it also. I believe that the true intangible anodyne is the ‘love of God’. He knows our grief and sorrow. There is a ‘Balm in Gilead that can heal the sin sick soul!