Myth of Cannot

The Myth of Cannot

Pentecost #181


This series began towards the end of May.  Although not a strict religious blog, nor even perhaps spiritual, it is organized according to one of the several Christian calendars and, as we’ve have touched on previously, sometimes those divisions have an influence on the series being discussed.  For instance, January 6, 2015 through February 17th was the division called Epiphany, based upon the season of the same name on the calendar of religious institutions with an historic episcopate.  During Epiphany, we discussed epiphanies of mankind, those inventions that often are overlooked and yet play an important role in our lives.


During this current series on mythology, we have discussed the spirits whose stories encompass the literature known as mythology.  This division on the calendar is called Pentecost and celebrates for those who believe in the holiest of all spirits, the essence of the monotheistic deity of the Christian faith and the third part of their Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost.  We have traveled the world in learning and discussing ancient myths and, sometimes, their modern-day counterparts.  After all, without the Norse mythologies, we would not have the Marvel comic book hero known as Thor or the current wave of zombie fever based upon ancient voodoo myths from Africa which traveled with slaves to the Caribbean and United States.


Usually it is on Friday that I answer questions or comments but today I will do so because, quite frankly, the world’s events have led me here.  As previously discussed last Friday night a great tragedy befell the City of Lights, Paris.  It was a city that felt prepared; it was a city that felt it was ready.  In a few short hours, it became a city that realized one cannot fully prepare for the future.  All we can really do is our best and then continue to do our best when tragedy befalls us.


As you know, my own family had a crisis happen to us mid-September.  A family member was involved in an automobile accident.  Through no fault of her own, a family member became a part of a physics problem, the problem being how many times can a sport utility vehicle better known as a Jeep roll on a crowded busy highway during rush-hour traffic.    Then the physics problem became a series of chance encounters and blessings.  The vehicle had no hard top, only a soft canvass covering.  The car behind my family member was being driven by a registered nurse who instantly went to said family member and enlisted the aid of two other drivers to extricate her from the vehicle once it stopped its tumbling journey of over three hundred feet.  They cut the canvas and her seat belt and pulled her to safety.  Emergency crews arrived quickly and transported her to one of the best trauma centers for such injuries in the world.


My family member arrived at the hospital unconscious and unresponsive.  I will not lie.  It was a scary time and then an even scarier sight to see her in the intensive care unit, alive and yet, seemingly not alive.  Taking that first step into the room where she was, seeing all the equipment keeping her alive, I would have thought my mind would have been focused on prayers or amazement or fear.  Instead I heard my grandmother’s voice reciting a family saying I have heard over a million times in my life from family members of all ages.  “Can’t never could do anything but jump in the lake and swallow a snake and come out with a belly ache!”


At a moment when the statistics were not in our favor, when everyone was horrified and petrified, I stood with perfect posture and smiled.  “She will get through this,” I stated.  A few people shuffled their feet and looked down.  After all, I am older than most of them and they were taught to respect their elders.  Others just shook their heads and looked away.  My older son, with his wife lying comatose, was the only one to look me in the eye.  “Yea?” he asked.  “Of course,” I replied.  “Tell me when believing in “can’t” ever accomplished anything.  After all…. “Can’t never could do anything but jump in the lake and swallow a snake and come out with a belly ache!”


Tomorrow will be the one week anniversary of the Paris tragedy.  Life has continued, at a time when, for some, that seemed impossible seven days ago.  For some, though, fear has replaced faith and cannot has replaced confidence.  At the time of the World Trade Towers tragedy on September 11, 2001, I lived near an airport and a very good friend was a pilot who had flown the routes that ended in tragedy that day.  I revisited those feelings Friday night as I hurriedly emailed friends in Paris, just as I had done fourteen years ago for my friend the pilot.  I remember the strange stillness of silence around the airport for three days as all planes were grounded in the US after the events at the World Trade Towers, The Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.


I understand how fear can knock on the door of our souls.  Today I had a delightful and insightful conversation with someone in another country (Thank heavens for modern technology!).  She is a life and career coach and during our conversation she made a wonderful analogy that applies to both simple living and professional career paths.  She likened letting past and present hurts prevent us from succeeding to driving a car with one’s foot on the brake.  The quote is from Anne Jenett, the friend with whom I conversed earlier today.  [While this blog today is not an advertisement for her, I encourage you to check out her twitter feed, Anne Jenett @UnfoldYourDream and website,]


None gets into a vehicle just to stay in one place.  We get in the car to go somewhere.  Likewise, no one really wants to stagnate in one place in life.  We want to be successful in whatever it is we are doing.  There is no purpose in living the “cannot”.  It is a myth to think it can be profitable and yet, many of us do just that.  We let fear keep us from being who we are.  Currently, I am ashamed to admit, there are many in my own country, the U.S.A., who are clamoring to deny refugees a chance to find life here.  In the past week I have written about how every culture in North and South America sprang from emigrants.  No culture originated on these two continents.  Someone gave their ancestors a chance, the chance that many would now deny current immigrants.  Is it because they think there is no more room or is it because there are following the myth of cannot?


Life is not a race; it is a pace.  My family member is still under institutional medical care but can now breathe on her own, slowly feed herself, and eat regular food.  The road she is traveling is still very long and there will be detours ahead with speed bumps for us all.  Yet, she refused to let the Myth of Cannot direct her life and she is beating the odds each and every hour.  The “Can do; let’s give it our best effort!” attitude of her medical team and family is the reason for her success.


Tomorrow we will continue our discussion of the earliest cultures of North America.  Today, though, I hope you give great thought to the Myth of Cannot and then make sure it does not direct your choices and actions in life.  After all, like my grandmother often said … “Can’t never could do anything but jump in the lake and swallow a snake and come out with a belly ache!”

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