learning to say “why not?”

learning to say “why not?”

Myths can rule our lives! Nonsense like: “algebra is hard and you have to be at least twelve to get it”; that playing a rhythm of three against four takes genius and math instead of flow and immersion; that success has its source in uncommon ability rather than in an irrepressible spirit; that a major shift takes years of struggle rather than a moment of insight… If you’ve never articulated the silent myths that shape your life, take a moment now, so that myths like these will not stop you from knowing that the change you want in your life is within your reach and always has been –

Tonight I was invited to a concert. To leave work behind at a time when I am racing the clock seemed impossible, irresponsible, even scary. I went anyway. Once seated, I had to borrow a pen to write —

a message in song

A woman’s song, her lone voice, weaves itself into the darkness —

All that you have is your soul

Her voice paints life on the night sky, in the open air, a spaciousness that, because the outer world is masked by darkness, turns vision inward, allowing one to see directly into oneself… I hear her song as a threnody, the actions of others having caused me, at least temporarily, to gauge downward my estimate of the human capacity for dishonor —

All that you have is your soul –

Then I must take very good care of my soul. There is much in my soul to yet deliver.

So much of what we have can be lost. This, my essence, is mine.

asking why not

In the wake of a difficult month, I’ve taken out Chopin’s Fantasie_Impromptu #IV, a piece that I’d begun as a teenager. I’d taken it on as sort of a personal dare, in that it is written in C# minor with the left hand in triplets against the right hand in quadruplets – three against four, it’s called. It requires “independence of the hands” – and I had no expectation of ever playing it to speed, nor any belief that I ever could. I simply intended to prove that I could break the code and accurately deliver the notes and the rhythm.

At the concert, in the dark, a flood of questions imperceptibly but undeniably shifts my perspective on this piece and probably alters the course of my life(1). It begins with two words:

Why not?

interrobang - teal 75 pxWhat valid reason can there be that I should I not expect that I am able to play this piece as it is intended to be played?

Limitations that, the moment before, seemed as real as a granite curtain, dissolve, and suddenly I can, I am

All the irrelevant messages – that it is hard, that it would require someone with more – more what exactly? – it is never explained – crumble and wash out to sea.

Why not? I ask myself.

It is a shift, the tiniest wisp of change in thinking, in being –

Who told me that it would be very hard for my brain to hear two separate lines simultaneously? Who would presume to know the capacity of another being?

What arrogance! What power! To convey as fact a conclusion that shuts down the expectations, the hopes, even the efforts of another human being – Instead, why not say, Your mind, your hands can do things that you cannot even imagine if you allow their capacity to emerge! Why not explain, there are two songs interwoven here and together they tell a powerful story; sometimes there are three or four or more. Your brain can discern them if you invite them in to be absorbed

Why didn’t someone, anyone, say that if I just tried I could do it? That it didn’t require a different breed of person; that I was enough; that I was equipped to succeed.

Why didn’t someone say why not?

It’s a question that you can pose to yourself.

As you contemplate the challenge that you’re facing, the thing that you are afraid to try, the project that you cannot find the courage to begin because at some level you don’t believe you can succeed – ask yourself,

Why not?

Probe to find the myths that have led you to limit your beliefs about your own potential, to choose not to try, to resign yourself to accepting less than you are.

Every particle of personal growth by parents opens up possibilities in the lives of their children. Eliminating the glass ceiling for yourself will change the way you respond to your children — and the way they later respond to theirs.

Just last week, my tiny granddaughter, 20 days old, rolled over. Probably my daughter and son-in-law have read somewhere that newborns cannot do this — but their recognition of Belle’s drive, desire and strength allowed them to allow her to test her capacity for achieving her goal. She worked hard, really hard, for two minutes, as they gently encouraged her. I had to sit on my hands watching the video, so strong was my urge to reduce her struggle. However, growth emerges through effort; if you resolve the struggle, you may unintentionally rob someone of the gift of being born —

An open air concert, birds overhead traversing the infinite charcoal sky —

A life open to the vast expansion of the human soul who asks why not?.


(1) (That, by the way, is the meaning of the interrobang: that powerful waves of questions generate sea change.)