It’ll Never Happen

Do you ever experience the euphoria that comes from lolling around deep in the middle of a daydream? Where buoyed by images of clouds and an endless blue sky you come to believe the daydream you have found yourself in? We all have a secret dream that we refer back to when times are tough or we’re feeling blue. Some of our secret dreams include living by the sea, finding true love, the career success we’ve always dreamed of, finally having the type of body that turns heads wherever we go.

Some secret dreams can have their foundations in reality, but most lapse very easily into fantasy.

Coming back to earth can be difficult. I had a friend years ago who was convinced she was going to win the lottery. Every week. She dreamed of what she would do with the money incessantly. She would ring me the day before the draw and tell me what she would buy for me when she won. Needless to say, she never won a thing. At first she used to laugh it off but I noticed an edge of bitterness creeping in the longer she held onto the fantasy. Winning the lottery was a dream that became an obsession. She became angry about the actual winners, wondering why they deserved it more than her. It was only when I sat down with her and talked about the laws of probability and explained that her chances of winning were something like 25,897,456 to 1 that she began to snap out of it.

Around that time my other friend, Jules, and I coined the phrase It’ll Never Happen. Occasionally, we have rather grand ideas about the directions our lives will take. We get all excited and gung ho about them, dreaming away like crazy teenagers. We have both been known to make decisions based on impulse rather than grounded in practicality, often to our detriment.

So we came up with the It’ll Never Happen way of thinking.

At first you might think that It’ll Never Happen is a very cynical, self-defeating way of thinking. But it is quite situation specific. We tend to apply it to things that we know in our hearts are not going to occur. To things we have attempted to work through or work with which just can’t reach a point of resolution. It may sound pessimistic, but it actually keeps us optimistic. And it keeps us moving forward.

A few years back we wanted to buy an old art deco cinema in our area that was up for sale. Initial investigations revealed it would sell for around 1.5 million dollars. We had five people involved and actually managed to raise the money, dreaming wildly of French film festivals and of singlehandedly reviving the independent film industry in Sydney. Half way through the whole thing the owner decided the cinema was worth much more than he had originally thought and put it on the market for nearly three million. He pulled the rug from under us. At first we were disappointed. We could have tied ourselves up in knots, frantically trying to get our hands on more money, getting in more investors until the whole thing was a seething, writhing, chaotic mess. The It’ll Never Happen philosophy stopped us from doing that. It made us accept that it was time to walk away, that owning a cinema wasn’t meant to be.

Today I wish the It’ll never Happen phrase had never been coined.

Jules is moving to England. It is a good thing. She and her husband have wonderful jobs over there and have even been able to buy a lovely house – something they could not afford to do in Sydney. The logistics of the move have been going on for the past year. Some of you may remember that Jules has a rather fraught relationship with her mother. Her mother is very wealthy and does not approve of Jules’ life choices. Every year Jules sends her mother Christmas presents from her kids and every year they are returned unopened. It is heartbreaking to watch.

This is a conversation I had with Jules about six months ago.

JULES: I ‘ve written to Mum. I’ve told her we’re moving.

ME: I don’t know why you bothered. You know you won’t hear back from her.

JULES: I just want her to know. I feel it’s the right thing to do. She’s getting older and I don’t want her to feel she’s all alone in the world.

ME: What do you expect her to say?

JULES: I want her to say ‘Don’t go, I need you here with me. I want to mend our relationship.’

ME: Would you stay if she asked you to?


The first thing I thought of after I had that conversation with Jules was It’ll Never Happen. I know she thought it too. I know she has probably thought it every day since then. I could rip my own tongue out for saying it in the first place because I don’t want Jules to lose hope when it comes to her mother even though part of me thinks it would be best if she did. I am tied up in knots about this. I want to say it. I need to say it. It’s like the proverbial pillar of salt is standing behind me and I can’t help but turn around and look at it. But it’ll never happen. I will never say those words to my dearest friend. I hate to see her hurt by her mother over and over again but I also cannot stand to see her give up hope.

So I’ll change my catchphrase to Maybe for the moment. Maybe her mother will have a change of heart after all. Maybe she will tell her daughter how much she means to her before she moves to the other side of the world. Maybe she will beg her to stay.

It could happen.

Couldn’t it?

23 thoughts on “It’ll Never Happen

  1. I think I am an “It will never happen person” – I am a realist and don’t really daydream at all. I sometimes think it is a shame as it must be comforting and exciting and well, escapism I guess. My mind does overthink but it tends to focus on things that need sorting.

    I really really hope that Jules’ mother does ask her to stay – for Jules’ sake and for yours. It is never good to lose a close friend. I know you will keep in touch despite the distance and maybe you will come over here to visit (oooh actually now I am rather changing my mind as it would be lovely to see you) but I know from experience that it is not the same particularly when time zones are involved.

    So yes, I hope she will.


  2. Hi RELUCS:
    Being realistic is very important. I have to work on my realist side a lot because much of the time I am ‘away with the fairies.’ I am praying Jules’ mother at least talks to her before she leaves. I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive her if she lets her go without saying anything. I hope that when I eventually do go and visit Jules in England that we can catch up too. That would be cool.


  3. Maybe.Wow. This one hit home. I sincerely hope Jules and her mother find a way to reconcile their differences. I went to see my mom a few months before she died. We both knew I would not be attending her funeral due to my inability to get along with the rest of my family…or perhaps it was the other way around. But I went , and slept in my car. Glad I did. I have never seen her grave. Convinced that …it will never happen. Now I am thinking…Maybe. Excellent post.


  4. “It’ll never happen…” I don’t know about this one Selma… 🙂 But then again, I’m one of those people who actually witnessed miracles happen and that made me a big fan of “maybe” and forced me to remove the word “never” from my vocabulary for good.
    You see, my sister was born with Down syndrome, also with a hole in her heart and a bad case of hydrocephaly. Most doctors said she wouldn’t last a year. She’ll turn 21 this year, graduated from high school 2 years ago, her math is better than mine, she’s perfectly happy and healthy and enjoys every minute of life 🙂
    Witnessing her beating the odds made me look at life from a different perspective. I don’t know if I can call myself a realistic but I’m not an “all dreams can come true” kind of person either.
    I do, however, love the word “maybe” , I believe we should use it more often…


  5. Hi PUNATIK:
    I think you should visit your mother’s grave if you can. It is wonderful that you went to the funeral. You probably didn’t realise at the time how good it was for you to do that. Maybe has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

    Hi LUA:
    That is wonderful about your sister. What an inspiring story. I’m not saying that good things, miraculous things never happen. I tend to say ‘it’ll never happen’ as a way of correcting myself so that my aspirations remain realistic because I can be a little unrealistic much of the time. It is more to do with me and my reactions to things rather than what other people can achieve. I agree with you in that it is important to look on the bright side if possible and that we should use ‘maybe’ more often.


  6. There is a trade-off in being realisitic (it will never happen) versus overly pie-in-the-sky. I tend to be pessimistic and think nothing against the odds will ever materialize. I know I have missed some great opportunities just because of that mindset.

    I hope something positive happens for your friend.


  7. I’m more of a “you never know until you try”… but the trying bit can be difficult.

    I hope her mother replies, but from what I’ve read here her mother is proud and difficult… but Jules tried to reach out. Who knows… maybe blood is thicker than water.


  8. When I adopted Mercury, I didn’t want to have a homestudy – the cost was tremendous, and we had already had him in our home for over 3 years as guardians. It seemed redundant and stupid. I was told “It will never happen” – I got the right lawyer and the right judge – It DID happen. I didn’t want my sister to contest – I didn’t want the family to be split up because I wanted to do the right thing by Mercury – again I was told to face facts – “It will never happen” – but it DID.

    Again and again I have been faced with what other people seem to think is impossible and somehow, the impossible is achieved because I refused to listen – refused to give up. I think in the case of a toxic parent like Jules (she would benefit from John Lund’s book, “How to Hug A Porcupine”) it’s important to remember that this person is not emotionally well themselves and so is not going to be able to bring you emotional happiness until they choose to change. But yes, I also believe that someday, MAYBE the toxic person might have an experience, or a conversation, or whatever that will bring a change of heart – and in doing so the impossible might be achieved.

    “Hope is the most exciting thing in life and if you honestly believe that love is out there, it will come. And even if it doesn’t come straight away there is still that chance all through your life that it will.” ~ Josh Hartnett

    Sometimes it doesn’t come the way you expected…..


  9. I’m with Jonas. Before I read his comment, I kept thinking, “you never know…”. I believe that. I’ve seen too many ridiculously unlikely things happen – good things – to have any other underlying philosophy of life.

    Adorable new pic, by the way, Sel!


  10. Hi SLAMDUNK:
    The optimism vs the pessimism debate is an interesting one for me. I know people who are eternally optimistic who cannot see that their businesses are failing or their marriages are falling apart because they firmly believe everything will work out. I think constant optimism is as bad as constant pessimism. Like pretty much everything else in life finding the balance is the key. The ‘it’ll never happen’ approach is a bit tongue in cheek for me because I am more of an optimist than a pessimist yet I think it is important to accept that some things just won’t work out. It’s a philosophy that keeps me grounded.


  11. Hi JONAS:
    ‘One never knows’ has a much nicer ring to it. I may adopt that as my new catchphrase 😀

    Hi NAT:
    Another good one.

    I’m not hopeful there will be a reconciliation between Jules and her mother. It’s been over 20 years. I pray it’ll happen but I’m not placing any bets on it.

    Hi TEX:
    As usual you are an inspiration. I am so glad things worked out with Mercury. You put me to shame with your ‘never give up’ attitude. I am also intrigued at the quote by Josh Hartnett. I think he is very cute. I like him even more after reading that. Cute and sensitive. Who said it’ll never happen ? 😉

    Hi STEPH:
    You are right, of course. I don’t mean to suggest I have adopted an overly negative stance on life with this post – it’s just the way I think sometimes. But usually, I am all about accentuating the positive. So great to see you back here. I am really happy you are here!


  12. I used to say ‘It’ll Never Happen’ a lot; turned out a lot of stuff (mainly nice stuff) did.

    As to the mother: I can only think of what my daughter’s partner said to his niece in similar circumstances:

    ‘Tell the crabbit auld bat what she is, and move on!’


  13. It is beyond my comprehension how a mother could completely remove herself from her child’s life because of that child’s life choices. She’s robbed her family of important relationships and she has to know that Jules will live with this regret for the rest of her life. It’s abominable.

    As regards the “it’ll never happen” strategy – I’m on the fence. Certainly I’m one that could use a beefing up in the practicality department. And one could accuse me of always sounding like a pollyanna, but thinking positively is a choice I made a long time ago, and it’s served me well. Yes, we do have to be able to recognise when to close the door and get on with things. But the simple act of saying “yes” or even “maybe” can change everything – it starts you walking in a particular direction.

    It irks me to say it, but I think Jules should just continue trying with the loathsome mother, even after she moves abroad. At least she will always know she did her best and lived to her own standards.


  14. I live by the reality of It’ll Never Happen too, but in this case, I think MAYBE is more applicable. Because there is the tiniest of possibilities Jules mother will one day come around. Right? I know I wouldnt be able to turn my back on my child forever!


  15. I tend to be the it will never happen type as well. So, from today I’m going to use the mantra “it may happen” instead. I hope Jules and her mum sort things out between them. Her mum sounds like she is stuck in a frozen place and needs help to get out of.


  16. Yeah, distance… I don’t know; moving thousands of miles away from my mother has done wonders for our relationship. But at least we were still talking when I moved and then it was just a case that we both knew we had to be careful what we said over the phone because it’s hard to undo words when you can’t speak face-to-face. So I guess my mother is actually very reasonable in comparison to Jules’s.

    I went home a few years ago for my grandmother’s 90th birthday and was finally able to confront her over her disapproval of me. She pretended not to care that I had flown so far to be with her and instead she fawned entirely over her niece whom (true) she also hadn’t seen for a while but whom she was more likely to see again than she would me. She realised that fact after I left, so we had to have the important conversation by phone, but at least we settled it and, before she died, I told her I loved her.


  17. Was interrupted last night…

    The rambling point I was trying to make was that Jules’s moving away may very well be the event that shocks her mum into realising what she’s losing. But it might take the actual move and the very real distance before that happens, not just the idea of it. I’m sure Jules’s mum will eventually be able to afford (emotionally) to make a trip out to the UK to see her daughter and grandchildren.


  18. Hi TRAVELRAT: (Sorry for the late response)
    LOL. Nothing like a Scot to sum things up. Love it!

    The sad thing is that the entire thing comes down to money. Jules’ mother is rich and Jules’ husband is poor (comparably speaking). So there is disapproval. It’s such a shame. I think Jules will keep on trying. To turn her back on someone is not in her nature.

    Hi MELEAH:
    Oh, I hope so. I really do. I know what you mean – I could never turn my back on my own child like that. It’s unthinkable and so terribly sad.

    Hi ROWE:
    Her Mum needs the anti-freeze alright. I hope she thaws out soon, I really do.

    You’re right. People need to be in a separate category. It’s just not possible to give up on them really.

    Hi DAOINE:
    Awww, hon. I know how hard it has been for you. I think you are right – this move could serve as a catalyst. I really hope so. I am really glad you got to tell your Mum you loved her before she died XXX


  19. When I started to read this post and the lottery was mentioned, I immediately thought of my father. Without the cynicism! He buys lottery tickets every week, and while he doesn’t plan on doing anything with the money (other than secretly putting in a bank for my mother to have once he’s gone), he is as hopeful this week that he was 10 years ago. He doesn’t dream of winning the lottery. As he likes to say “I don’t want millions – a hundred thousand will suit me just fine!” There’s a childlike innocence in his attitude to that which always brings a smile to my face.
    I do feel sorry for your friend Jules, and I am glad that you changed to “maybe”. Texasblu had it right – without hope, what else do we have? The universe is a finite place, and whatever we put into it will be back around at some point. There’s enough cynicism in the world already – I think that we could all use a little more hope.
    I don’t believe that there is a solution for Jules. Maybe once she has gone her mother will come to her senses and realize that people don’t stay around forever. Just as with life, time is precious. Jules’ mother should make the most of her time with her daughter. I think that the distance will (in the long run) be better for Jules though. I do hope that it is.


  20. Hi MANOJ:
    I like your Dad’s enthusiasm about the lottery. It is good to have an innocent little wager from time to time.

    Sadly, I think you might be right about there being no solution for Jules. Her mother has had ample time and oppportunity to make amends but still there is nothing. It will be easier for Jules to accept when distance is involved. Sad for me, though *sigh*


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