If “I can’t” had a physical appearance, it would look like a high wall. Wall that is impossible to see through, over or around. Wall keeping us from advancing. From improvement. From change.
I was inspired to write this post by a conversation with a close family member that was full of “I can’t”. So full, overflowing that I couldn’t keep it under the lid anymore. It didn’t fly off, like from a pressure cooker, it just moved over the side a little and let something overflow over the edge. Because there’s a limit to how many “I can’t” I’m able to handle.
Let’s see some examples which influence us, we often hear them or just piss us off in general in relation to ourselves or surroundings.
I would love to travel too, but…
We hear this one a lot in relation to our journey. Everyone can pick their own “I can’t” as they prefer. Because mortgage, because work, because kids, because I don’t have money, because I don’t know languages… I can’t is the common denominator here. Many time you could switch any of them for – because I’m lazy to figure out a way how I could. That might mean my standard of living might change (like you’ll sleep more often in a tent on a leaking camping matt rather than in a bed). Or I will loose some of the life securities. No physical house to return to, no stable job… Or because the kids are too small and it would be too much trouble.
If this makes you happy and gives peace of mind then good for you. Just change the “I can’t” for “I don’t want to”. And that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone has to hum the same song. “I’m so jealous, I wish I could too”. Each of us has different life priorities and needs. Sometimes I’ve got the feeling, that in this age of instagram, youtube and influencers everyone’s aim has to be seeing as many countries as possible, get the most likes and get a pic of your ass on each and every beach on this planet and rooftop pools of skyscrapers in Asian supercities. Well, it doesn’t have to. For some people a finger on the map is enough.
If the more appropriate phrase instead of “I can’t” is “I can’t be bothered/I’m lazy to” then it’s a different story. If you settle for your current reality because you’ve got problem moving your ass, break away from your comfort and securities, leave your sofa, then my darlings I’ve only got one thing to tell you – that’s what you deserve! Brain doesn’t evolve if we only feed it the same stimuli over and over again. If you can’t now, but will be able to once you retire, pay off the mortgage or kids grow up, then you might as well not live long enough. And then what? We don’t know how it looks like in the other world. I hope and believe that over there you’ll be able to do anything (even jumping head first into the water, which here on Earth I just “can’t”), but we can’t be sure. Nobody has ever returned from there to report back.
I can’t live without meat
Classic. Often used excuse by our families, friends and internet users (ideally anonymously). But how do you know? Only way to prove this theory right would be to try and stop living. Die. Don’t tell me that’s what has happened to you (and in case it did, how does the other world look like?). The irony is that this “argument” are mostly used not by modest consumers, but those who can’t image a day without it. Or rather don’t wan’t to. Because that would require some sort of effort, overcome the laziness and look for alternatives.
The only ones for whom this statement is true, are the animals who really “can’t live” when they are served for dinner.
And before you start with the protein, just remember how many kilometres we’ve already done purely on plant based food. The next statement is closely related to this as well:
I can’t live without cheese
I used to tell myself this during the many years as a vegetarian. And now I tell you I can. What’s more with normalised cholesterol level without using statins (drug used to lower cholesterol), which it looked like I might need.
I don’t want to glorify ourselves or make us impeccable. We’re far from that. What do you think we are thinking about while pushing hard up that steep hill? Falafel, hummus or quinoa? Far from it! Bryndzove halusky (typical Slovak food – small potato dumplings with soft sheep cheese), fish and chips and all the childhood comfort foods made by our grandmothers. And it’s really tough sometimes, especially when we arrive to a typical town in Latin America, ravenous, as they just have to put milk into everything here. But the stomach is yet to score a single point.
Each and every “I can’t live without” either costs a life of an animal or means a life long torture, until the death is actually the liberation. I have a very naive, almost childish view at this. I don’t understand how we can accept and support this cruelty as a society. We are the only mammals who consume the breast milk during their whole life. Breast milk of another species on top of that.
If you see someone being beaten on the street, it’s not normal to go and have a kick as well but take his side and help, so that violence stops. But we still tolerate this violence to the voiceless, because… ehmmm… because “we can’t live” without cheddar.
I can’t…, because I’m too old
Age is a number. Number, which only you can decide how much it defines you. For example, many people do what we do. People of all ages. In 2017 a 56 years old Irish man cycled around the world. 87 year old Englishman is the oldest man to cycle the 1000-miles route from Cornwall to Scotland. On an old folding Brompton bike. My grandfather used to ride a bike around our town to the garden, got everything there sorted, we were only workforce, and I dare to say that he kept his days interesting and fulfilling until the end. In Missoula, Montana we stayed few days with 80 years old Edith. She keeps on touring the world and each of her birthdays she rides with her friends the distance equaling her age. In miles.
I can’t…, because I have a dog
In reality there’s only very few things you can’t do with a dog, because it would be just cruel for him. Bungee jumping, go to a techno party, get pissed together in a bar on a Friday night. You are only limited by your love and loyalty to him. Only you as his closest human can define what’s still okay and what over the line for the dog. You know him the best. Obviously international travel and cycle touring is not a problem for ours :).
I can’t because I don’t have time
Probably the most favorite excuse of our always bustling era. My friend once told me he didn’t have 10 minutes to watch one of our videos. But let’s look a little closer at this one. This is about us very much as well. You could say we are procrastination pros. Social media, my neverending tapping on the phone screen, attention slips, Tom’s burrowing in the bathroom and reading all sorts of things but quality literature… And then we really don’t have time to finish what we wanted. We’ve got the same amount of time every single day. It’s only up to us what we decide to do with those 24 hours.
Can, try, want
Despite the fact that we are “living our dream”, “I can’t” is still chasing us, restricting us, keeps building that imaginary wall in front of us. Just because we don’t admit what stands behind it and we don’t try to resolve it. “I can’t” hurts other living beings. “I can’t” separates us from our dreams, ambitions and desires. It’s beating us down. Frustrates us. It’s uninspiring. With each “I can’t” the wall keeps on growing and it’s increasingly difficult to see over it to the other side.
On the other hand, “try”, “want” and “can” is like a demolition hammer. It doesn’t tear the wall down all at once, but makes a hole. So you can see to the other side. And once there’s enough holes, the wall will collapse. So what are you going to use to start your demolition? I’m going to install an app to monitor the time I’m spending on the phone and maybe I’ll be able to see through the hole where all that time is getting lost.