There are few things that I say I "can't" do.
Those things should probably be re-categorized as "things I really could do, but I just don't want to."
Most of my waking days consist of me saying I "can" do things and then figuring out how to do them. Sure, I can do this graphic design project. Sure, I can build something in the back end of our site. Sure, I can write this blog post. Very rarely do I say I "can't." Maybe that's because of pride or ego. Maybe that's what I think it means to be a hard-working person or a professional. Maybe a bit of both.
For years, I considered running a half marathon one of those things I "can't" do. It's partly physical (knee pain, achilles pain, you name it), but it's mostly mental. The little voice in my head that says, "just walk." Other such things (and excuses) include: whistling (anatomy), handstands (injury), math (complete embarrassment), and anything involving a conception of space (sheer frustration).
I remember in college, girls waking up early after nights of endless cheap beers and wild, half-naked dance parties to throw back some coffee and go for an "easy run" of 6 miles to get ready for a half marathon that went through our small Vermont town. This intensity always shocked me – and I could never do it (either part). (Looking back, I think this was as much about these girls "performing" this role as it was putting in the training for an intense athletic feat.)
Living in Italy for a year with endless aperitivos (read: cheese, meat, bread, wine, repeat) in sight, I accepted my body would become a little wobbly. Still, I wanted to set some concrete goals, so I signed up for a 10K in Milan. "This is the farthest I could ever run," I told myself. For months, I walked/jogged/ran past elderly Piemontese men out for their Sunday passeggiata, and then one sweaty summer night, I ran 6 miles through the cobblestone streets of the city center.
That was it. No more. I can't. Or more accurately, "I really could, but I just don't want to."
But here I am in November 2017, peering over into 2018, in search of a little bit of purpose, a new jolt of energy, a challenge. For better or worse, I am a creature of habit, and I've crawled back into many of those tendencies lately, retreating a bit from the world. While it's cozy in the cocoon, I know deep inside that I need to shake myself around and stretch it out (my body and my mind).
So I signed up for a half marathon next July, something I have long told myself I couldn't do. It might seem trivial, but for me it will mean reversing a significant mental block – tearing it down and building something up.
I need some time. I need to listen to my body. Maybe in the process I'll do a handstand, or learn how to whistle, or build something involving a numbered diagram and a screwdriver. I know that I can and I will cross that finish line. I hope there are lots of bubbles on the other side.
It's in wine country, after all.