Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Little Engine That... Couldn't?

You know the mantra. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."

Well.... have you ever had those experience that go more like, "I can't do this, I can't do this, I canNOT do this!"


My most recent, "I cannot do this" occurred, big surprise, when I was hiking an intermediate trail on the Alps. And yes, I did include the word intermediate to make myself sound uber-tough and skilled. Unfortunately, I'm not an intermediate hiker. I'm about as novice as you can get. So... about twenty minutes into the hike, I start thinking, "Oh crap. I can't do this. But I can't make my whole group give up the hike! But I can't spend a night in the car while everyone goes up the mountain! I have to do this. I can't do this."

Well, surprise surprise, I did do it! 8 kilometers up, and 8 kilometers dow- oh wait. There was that part....

"I can't do this oh my gosh it hurts I was insane to do this what was I thinking I can't do this they'll have to call a helicopter oh I was determined to do this but I just can't."

Going down the trail was infinitely more painful than going up. And that hike was the first time in awhile I got such a huge case of "I can't"s.

I'm not really an I can't sort of person. I'm competitive, I love challenges, and I have a really strong will. Mind over matter has gotten me through a lot of "I don't know if I can"s, including terrifying roller coasters (I hate them), those stupid free fall things at carnivals, hard discussions, impossible assignments, and really frustrating levels on video games. But sometimes I do get the can'ts, and you know what?

Almost always, I do. I can't, but I do.

What about you, authors?

Obviously, I did make it down that trail. Painful, miserable as it was, I did it, and I was glad I did it. But at that point, it was past willpower, it was necessity. Yes, I COULD have been helicoptered out, but gosh, how embarrassing! Not that mincing down the trail was much less embarrassing... (P.S. I ended up losing two toenails and my feet were still bleeding when I got home and took off my hiking boots.)

And recently, I've been getting the 'I can't's about writing. And authors, it's hard.

But we have to, don't we? It's past willpower, it's necessity.

What challenges have you conquered? Did you ever think, 'I can't'?



(P.S. I have conquered the I can'ts. I'll tell you how in my next post - dundundunnnnnnn!)


Terry Stonecrop said...

Good post!

I suffer more from cases of, "I don't feel like it." A little different but still, in the end, like you, I bite the bullet and just do it. Sometimes I offer myself little rewards. I love rewards.

WritingNut said...

I suffer from many bouts of "I don't know about this" and "what am I really thinking" which eventually lead into.. "I can't do this!"

Sooner or later (I usually hope for sooner), I convince myself that I can do anything and to stop procrastinating and get to work!

Janet Johnson said...

Ouch! My feet are hurting for you.

The only way I get over the can'ts is by ignoring myself. So silly. But I suppose the can'ts are silly, too.

Krispy said...

Like Terry, I'm in the "I don't feel like it" camp more often than "I can't do it" camp when it comes to writing.

Kudos to you for getting through that hike though! My feet are feeling sympathy pains for yours. Similar moment of panic for me was high school Germany trip. We were in Ulm climbing the 700-some stairs up the tallest church spire in Germany (or something). There's a point about 550 steps up where you start getting claustrophobic in that narrow stairway and you start wondering if it's ever going to end and if you'll make it because you can't see how much further there is to go because it is THAT closed in. Yeah.

Glad to hear, also, that you are over the I Can'ts. :)