Run Forrest Run: “The Words I Can’t Don’t Fly In Here”

And so comes my first profound cliché lesson, in a way, the blind leading the blinding: you don’t know until you try. As a kid, my father would put on Forrest Gump and we would all crowd around the TV and fantasize about a life as grand as a man who learns to walk again, meets the president, and all without all being there (for lack of sounding harsh). It inspired a disproportional sense of the idea, as growing up as a millennial did, that we could all be “anything we wanted to be,” if we just dreamed and worked hard. While I have found that this is not the case, as a self-proclaimed hard worker, there was something more important to be learned in this particular case: if you didn’t at least try to run, as my friend Forrest did here, you would never actually do so. Instead, of running, I found that my generation, the seemingly “lazy” Millennials, are crippled by the fear of the two most powerful words: I can’t. Going back to my childhood once again, as I will do often, (because I read too deeply into life and think everything is a metaphor, but that is for another day), the words “I can’t” stir up a certain memory of this wonderful (and slightly crazy) art teacher I had. We would pile into a small classroom, don old, oversized t-shirts (the elitist call them “smocks”), and listen to the project and items we would be completing that day. I have to give her credit, teaching small children the art of life, pun intended, is no easy feat. I look back on that classroom and think of the many important things she taught us about life: color, beauty, faith, and most of all, hope. Mrs. Smith, as we will call her, used to say the most interesting phrase that always caught my attention, as it was posted, pasted, painted, and purported on every surface of the classroom, like something out of a horror movie, but no so horror. She would say it every time the words “I can’t” slipped out of someone’s mouth and make it a big deal: “The words I can’t don’t fly in here!” And so they didn’t. You were lectured that if you never tried, you would never know if you could or could not. And so, the words hung loosely about the room, a silent reminder that life is not about succeeding at everything you do, but trying and finding out if you could, but simply never trying because you thought to yourself “I can’t” was unacceptable. While as a kindergartener this makes no real sense in the context of life, the older I got, and continue to get as I grow, I realize it is everything. As your anxiety about life kicks in and you deem tasks unattainable and simply think the words “I can’t,” that very mantra comes to fruition. By deeming a task unachievable from the start and thus writing it off, you never really know. Therefore, my first profound thing about life that I will start with, that I think I know: don’t say you can’t if you have never even really tried. You never know, you might just mean the president one day if you just keep running.

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