This idiom, never say never, came up in a conversation. Corny, I know, but it made me think a little about what it really means.
Here is the Dictionary.com definition: “Nothing is impossible, anything can happen, as in ‘Mary said Tom would never call her again, but I told her, “Never say never.”‘ This expression was first recorded in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers (1837).”
Obviously as an idiom it is a wordplay and an oxymoron. As a set of mind, it is the idea of openness to possibilities, even where none seem to exist. As a saying to another, it is an expression of encouragement and hope. Then, of course, there is the question of using never in the idiom itself, which is what makes it an oxymoron. It reminds me of an Escher drawing of one of those endless impossible loops. It can also be a good koan, if only I was a Zen practitioner: “Is never itself a possibility within never say never?” Never; is that coming from not ever? Does that cover the future or also the past?
Luckily I do not practice Zen. I stopped shortly after slapping myself while trying to figure out the sound of one hand clapping. But then again, that is better than trying to listen in on a tree falling in the forest without actually being around. As my grandmother would have probably said, “Oy vey…”
Since this is getting sillier by the minute and quite out of hand, I’ll conclude with a quote from Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth: “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
Learned from: an expression during a conversation