Day 6: Why Not?

By November 17, 2009Why not?

How many times have we been told at some point in our lives, “You can’t do that!”?  Like most children, I often responded with, “Why not?”

As children, the “Why Not?” mantra is so prevalent that the infamous “because I said so” reply gradually transforms into “because that’s the way it is”  or “it can’t be done” and many of us forget to keep asking.

Why Not Car Model in China (even if it is a hideous dress)

Why Not Car Model in China (even if it is a hideous dress)?

But think where we would be without this question. Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the moon. We might still believe the world was flat. Humanity as we know it would not exist.

So, I’ve been using “Why Not?” more frequently in my vocabulary. I find it empowering. The simple phrase revives me, stimulates my creativity, and taps into my inner child. It reminds me of a time when I did believe anything was possible.  The more I say it to myself and others, the more I realize anything is still possible.

Photo by Aaron Burden

Photo by Aaron Burden

In this “Why Not?” vein, I did several things I’ve never done before in the past few days:

  • While riding in the car with a friend, I inexplicably started imitating the trumpet/horn with my lips.  It was invigorating!  My friend soon chimed in and before we knew it, we were creating alittle symphony in busy city traffic.  It is almost impossible to take yourself too seriously when doing that, and it is so much fun!
  • Got on a plane that arrived in Milwaukee and departed from O’Hare.  In the course of the weekend, my friend and I managed to eat out-of this-world Nepalese food in Madison, play the game of LIFE at 3 in the morning, drive through much of Wisconsin and Michigan, see Lake Superior, walk through the Porcupine Mountain State Park, and see brilliant waterfalls.  We experienced 3 States in 52 hours, ate amazing food in local towns, and met some great people along the way.

Where has the “Why Not” question taken you?


Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Rob says:

    Good idea, “why not”. The “why not” respond surprises people and also challenges them to really think about it! Good one!
    Big hug, Rob

  • Jacqueline says:

    Thanks Rob! Big hug to you. Hope the family is doing well!

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you, Jacqueline. You took me back to a time when I was as free, in the physical sense, and made me realize I can still be free in my imagination in everyday existence!

  • Ferg says:

    I would agree that our scope of opportunities is greater than many people perceive it to be, and often I wonder why so few venture out and seek more adventure.
    However, I would be careful before putting forward statements like “anything is still possible.” That comes across as a little naive. Many people are genuinely in trying circumstances and do not have the opportunities you and I are fortunate to enjoy.
    Back at the BU rowing gym there used to be a note up on the wall, “A diamond is just a lump of coal that stuck with it.” My response was, some people, when it comes to rowing, are just lumps of coal. They will never become elite rowers, and they’d best quit now before wasting a part of their lives on the venture.
    Keep these coming. I look forward to reading more soon.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Ferg, I’m glad that you raised this point. I do agree that some people do not have the same opportunities and are truly struggling. And for some, putting something as large, idealist, and overarching as “anything is possible; you can do it” can come across as overwhelming, trite, and naive.

      I think this ties into the quote you mentioned. I see it from a couple of different perspectives. If the person’s only goal is to be an “elite” rower, he/she may or may not ever accomplish that goal, but in striving for success and his/her personal best, he/she learns something, that might make him/her an “elite” person.

      All through childhood, basketball was my love. I was cut from the JV team my freshman year, and it crushed me. After I got my bearings, I decided that I was going to dedicate all my spare time to practicing and that I would make the Varsity team my sophomore year. I did. I only played Varsity basketball one year. At the end of that year, I took a hard look at myself and realized that I had reached my potential, my diamond in the lump of coal. I made the most courageous and difficult decision of my young life the day I decided to quit basketball. On somewhat of a whim, I picked up running, made Varsity and absolutely loved it.

      That decision to follow my dreams, and go after that “anything is possible” attitude completely changed my life. It showed me that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to (Varsity), and it also showed me that when going down the road to pursuing your passions, new goals and dreams arrive that are better suited for that person at that time.

      And what if I had never tried? A part of me would regret it, thinking maybe I could have been the next Sheryl Swoopes. Who knows? If I had believed that was possible, maybe I would have made it to the WNBA. 😉

  • Brenda says:

    Hi Jacqueline and Ferg,

    I too realize that some are not able to accomplish goals, but I believe it’s only because they don’t know ‘anything is possible’ or for some reason they don’t even know what IS possible. If they did know, and if they did want something, I truly believe at that time they ‘could’ believe anything is possible.

    I am a person who struggled all the way through high school. There’s a lot of reasons for that, mostly because I didn’t take the time to study because I had the ‘I’ll never get the A I want anyway’ attitude as well as other self-defeating statements I made to myself. – My guidance counselor told me to just get a job and so did my parents, so I never considered college until I was 24.

    It was the fact that I was incredibly naive about what it takes to deal with higher education that got me started, and it was sheer will and determination that got me through it. I still didn’t get very many A’s, but keeping my eye on the goal and overcoming obstacles kept me working and I was so proud of myself just for attaining that diploma! – That was success to me, and it didn’t have anything to do with being perfect.

    I had the same experience with Grad school, only I put even more work into it and had a much better GPA because of it.

    So I believe each persons concept of success is different and if we know anything is possible we truly can achieve it.

    I also hear many stories of people who seemingly had insurmountable odds against them and overcame them! – Now THAT’s cool!

  • Jacqueline says:

    Thanks so much to Rob, Brenda, and Ferg for taking the time to share their thoughts and comments!

  • Nancy says:

    I stumbled upon your blog today and have really enjoyed your writing – both style and content. I have lead (and continue to lead) a very full life by asking myself ‘why not?’ as a personal mantra. With very few exeptions, life has answered back in a resoundingly positive way. I look forward to scouring what you have here now and eagerly await future updates.

  • Life sure has huge chapters waiting
    to be unfolded if we go along with… why not..

  • Mara says:

    I sometimes fall into the ‘be realistic’ view when it comes to my goals, and then I realize that I am not being ‘realistic’, I am being ‘pessimistic’. Why do people think that there is more chance that a situation or goal or dream can never be done, when there is just a good of a possibility that it can? It takes a conscious effort to stop negative thinking and say to yourself “why not me?” I have done this in my personal life and it resulted in finally moving to San Francisco and getting my writing published, which was a lifelong dream of mine. But had I given up, had I said to myself “It’ll never happen, Mara”, nothing would have happened and I would never would have had reality show me a different picture then a negative one- a picture that life is abundant and can be pleasantly surprising when you don’t underestimate your own power. It reminds me of a poem by Nelson Mandela:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

  • Jacqueline says:

    I love that quote! I actually have it above my desk. I think it’s originally by Marianne Williamson, and it’s wonderful. I’m really glad that you decided to write, Mara! Your writing is brave and beautiful!

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