When I was a kid my father had a saying: “Don’t tell me you can’t, tell me you’ll try.” At the time I didn’t appreciate it that much, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered this is a great motto to live and grow by. Because trying involves growth, and growth involves trying.
It’s impossible to grow and advance or succeed in something if you don’t try. Athletes and musicians know this well. There must be many hours of practice — trying — to create muscle memory and to perfect the right moves. Yes, there are failings and mistakes, but that’s all part of the necessary process.
To me, there are many, many applications of this little motto. What about trying to learn a new skill — like sewing, carpentry, fishing, painting, or cross-fit? “Oh, I’ve never done that before!” you may reply. So you don’t know how well you can do it or not unless you try. AND you don’t know whether you like doing it or not unless you try.
What about trying a new food? My response used to always be, “Oh, I won’t like that.” For years, my husband (who likes just about any kind of food) constantly hounded me to try new flavors, especially when traveling abroad, and for years, I fought him (I’m a simple person). Eventually I succumbed and lo, and behold, I have tried countless divers kinds of foods, including fresh tuna sashimi, goat meat, and even part of a pig’s ear. (Although I still can’t deal with mayonnaise.) Just the other day we tried some Ethiopian food. Can’t say I loved it, but can say I’ve tried it.
As we try things we grow — a lot. We grow in knowledge, something new we learn about, like glassblowing or planting a vegetable garden; we grow actual brain paths within our brain as we attempt unfamiliar activities (neuroplasticity is a big thing now); we grow physically with new exercises or health changes (ever try rock climbing?); and we also grow spiritually as we try different ways of study, meditation, and being open to doctrinal challenges. Actually, if you’re really looking to grow spiritually, listen or read something that confronts your beliefs.
Growth is a part of life. We should never finish growing. It’s proven to be healthy to continue learning and challenging ourselves. In fact, I have a 95-year-old grandmother who still loves to do sudokus and crossword puzzles. She also reads constantly. Needless to say, her mind is still quite sharp. I also know quite a few surfers who are still surfing into their retirement years and runners doing races into their 70s. I believe we are never too old to try something new. Because if we stop trying, we stop growing.
Thanks to my dad’s little saying I have ran marathons, traveled to over 20 countries, learned computer programs, played music and several instruments, eaten strange foods with interesting people, hiked mountains, zip-lined canyons, seen sharks while diving, skied a little, and speak some Spanish. Some of these things (and a torrent of others) I did well and some I did not. But at least I tried. Several years ago I even tried to train for a triathlon but ended up breaking my wrist.
So… I just got some wrist guards — I’m thinking about trying skateboarding with my son’s old longboard now.