I once set off a firestorm. Okay I set off a lot of firestorms, but this one took me by surprise. Someone from a Facebook group I belong to asked me to create a one-word theme that would be my word to live by for the new year and share it. I loved the idea. Rather than setting a specific goal, having a word to guide my actions through the year seemed manageable, fun and a challenge. The word I chose: “TRY”.
Almost immediately the comment box was filled with backlash. “Do or do not- there is no try,” was thrown at me at least a dozen times. Could they have been a little more creative, at least?
I get it. “Try” can be a weak word. It can signify reluctance, doubt and false intentions.
“I’ll try to send that information to you today.”
“I’ll try to remember to pick up some milk on the way home.”
“I’m going to try to eat better tomorrow.”
Yes, when my kids tell me they will try to clean their rooms, alarm bells sound off in my head. I know they have no intention of vacuuming the garbage off their floor. I doubt they even see the garbage on their floor.
But in so many ways, “try” is a courageous word. It can signify a willingness to step into the great unknown- to uncover the undiscovered. It’s much easier to simply say, “No.”
I’ve tried many activities and failed miserably. Cooking, sewing, even gardening are skills I’ve attempted but never mastered. And then came running.
Six years ago I decided to try running. I’ve been taught from my youth that we all have talents and I was searching for mine. There was nothing in my past or present that would make me think I had the strength to run, much less run well, but it seemed like something a lot of other people enjoyed. My first run was wonderful. The second run was not. But I didn’t stop. I knew this would challenge me and I was a girl who loves a challenge. And so, I kept on.
After a few months, I found a rhythm and even joy in my runs. A friend told me to try running a half-marathon. I doubled down and signed up for a full. Did I think I could do it? I had no idea. Really, I’d only run 10 miles at once. But I knew if I didn’t at least start, the answer would be a definite, NO.
Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by a monumental task. To tell someone that their effort has to be all or nothing can keep many of us from accomplishing the incredible. If someone had told me that once I signed up for a marathon I was 100% bound to finish, I would never have tried. Knowing that I could take it a week at a time, even a mile at a time gave me the confidence to take that first step.
Whenever someone tells me they could never run a marathon, I tell them they don’t have to. Just run a mile and see how it feels. Then another. Then another. I never run 26.2 miles at once. I run a mile at a time and I never let my brain think farther ahead than that.
Yesterday I steamed some broccoli for dinner. As usual, my oldest said she hated it. She’s never tried it.
“How do you know you hate it if you’ve never tried it? How did you know you liked chocolate before you tasted it?”
After much cajoling, she hesitantly tried a bite. After a moment of reflection, she said with confidence, “I tried it and now I KNOW I hate it.”
At least she tried.