I think we’re born thinking one of two ways.
I can do whatever I decide to do.
A couple weeks ago, I read Bob Goff’s wonderful book, Love Does. In the middle of one of his stories, Bob said,
“When you’re in high school, you don’t give much thought to what you can’t do.”
This wasn’t at all the point of his book. But I highlighted it, because in high school, and every other kind of school, I thought often about what I couldn’t do.
I missed out on trying things because I assumed I couldn’t do them. Rather, I couldn’t do them right (on the very first try), but that’s another issue.
I see these two trains of thought in my boys. One of them needs us to persuade him often, that He can. We’ve been cheering him on since long before he wouldn’t enter the pool as a toddler. We’ve pushed him down tall slides and required him to learn to ride a bike without training wheels, only forcing him to get on or in when we knew it was in his best interest.
When he learned he could do it each time, he was surprised and thrilled. I think he’s growing out of the I can’ts, because he’s taking on all sorts of new challenges with confidence these days.
On the other hand, another of our boys is certain he’s going to rock the World Cup one day. Or anything else he decides to do. If he needs to improve, he’ll just practice more. It never occurs to him he might not pull it off. I can’t only comes out to play when schoolwork includes an exceptional amount of handwriting. Other than that, he doesn’t think about what he can’t do.
When I was young, I dreamed of painting, among other things. But I thought I needed some special talent. I thought I should do it well, right from the start, or it would be a waste–or I would be a failure. That was too much pressure. I hated to fail back then.
So I never tried.
Then we studied the late Grandma Moses as part of our Art curriculum. And up from the grave, this spunky little woman ignited a fire in me. She began painting in her late 70’s and created beautiful works of art for the rest of her life.
I poured myself into awakening the art within my children. But then realized, there was art to awaken in me.
It was my turn to stop holding myself back. A neighbor invited me to a painting class, so at three and a half decades, I first brushed color to canvas. I became an artist who practiced her art, wondering how I ever lived without all this color and creativity. It was love at first try.
And now every time I paint on my own or with others, I hear it.
I can. I really can.
It’s never too late to try something new. What have you always wanted to try? What have you always wanted to learn and do? Make a plan to do it now. This fall. 2014.
Because you can. You really can.