Things I CAN

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.  Pablo Picasso

In his book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink suggests stretching your creativity by “celebrating your amateurness.”

“If you want a creative life,” he says, “do what you can’t and experience the beauty of the mistakes you make.”

For a perfectionist like me, there is something oddly freeing in the idea of trying something totally and completely out of my element and realm of experience. I don’t have to do this thing perfectly because it’s just not even remotely something that I would normally do. Simply the fact that I’m doing it at all is a big deal. And, actually, in this kind of situation, the perfect thing to do is to make mistakes. I like it!

There are plenty of things that I’m naturally good at, but for much of my life, especially when I was a kid, if I wasn’t absolutely amazing at something on the first few tries… I’d give up doing it. My husband puts it this way: I am so competitive that I can’t handle not winning; so if I think there’s a chance that I’m not going to be the all-time, number one, absolute champion at something, I don’t want to do it. (I know that sounds awful on paper. I swear I’m a lovely and charming person in real life!)

Now that I have kids of my own, I realize that’s absolutely no way to live life. I certainly don’t want them picking up on that attitude. Plus trying new things, being open to new adventures–and yes allowing yourself to make mistakes–is a big part of being a playful, creative, whole person.

So in that spirit, here are some things I can’t (yet):

  • Play the guitar (or the banjo)
  • Stand up paddle yoga (Honestly, this sounds like an awesome sport and a fun(ny) thing to be able to say you can do; the main reason I say that I can’t do this is the fact that I can’t…
  • Swim (Very well. Yet. Yes, this is a skill that I should have learned about 30 years ago. Why didn’t I? It’s a long story…)
  • Be a published writer (My days as a features reporter at a daily newspaper do not count. Did I mention that I’m a perfectionist?)
  • Drive a car with manual transmission (Helloooo, my husband’s super-hot, blue 1997 Dodge Viper! Looks like I’ll be driving you soon! ;)
  • Adventure racing (This is a sport that involves the ability to navigate with a compass, run, bike and paddle a canoe. In total, this is so far removed from my normal sense of self and skill level… how could I not do it!?)
  • Have a conversation with a person I don’t know (This is about as basic as you can get, I know, step one in making new friends. But it’s just one of those things that I’ve always dreaded doing, and I’d like to get better at.)

Okay, I’m going to try my hand at some of things and see where they lead me. Plus I’ll probably add some new items to the list as I think of them. I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2011

2 thoughts on “Things I CAN

  1. Susan Caruso says:

    These are ideas that I started exploring in my womens biz group last year. I need to read Pink.
    The yoga paddling is pretty wild….
    I have an extra guitar just waiting for you…
    I am really enjoying this blog so far and love the photos.

  2. I’m going to add Ice Skating to the list of Things I CAN.

    Yesterday I attended a birthday party with my little girls at an ice skating rink. Even though I’ve only ice skated probably once in my life (when I was about nine years old), as I strapped on my skates and made my way to the ice, I was utterly without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt convinced that I am in fact a fantastic skater. All I’d have to do is step out on the ice and just go…

    I didn’t actually get to test this theory because most of my ice time was spent with a three-year-old wrapped around my ankles. As a result, I’m still convinced that I am an amazing ice skater.

    Why do I feel so deeply that I can do this? Why can I close my eyes and imagine myself flying across the ice, like it’s already happened? I have no idea really. Possibly because of the hours I spent roller skating when I was a kid (how different could it be?) Or possibly because I was a hockey player in a former life.

    Either way… I’m going to go with it and give ice skating another try. :)

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