I only speak English. I do it quite well and have a larger than normal vocabulary, according to my sister the Kindergarten Teacher who might not be the best judge of normal adult vocabulary. Regardless, I speak English. I speak only English. I would like to learn a second language just for the sake of it, but I have no one to practice with, meaning it would just be an exercise in futility.

I was watching – really I was just listening – to a TEDx Talk and the speaker was doing a very good job in delivering his speech even though it was obvious that English was not his Mother Tongue. What he was talking about was authenticity of self and how to interact with others in a more authentic manner.

It was his opinion ego gets in the way of our connectability and we remain separate and often at a distance due to our own egos getting in the way. He was listing steps to connect with others in a better fashion.

The first rule was to know your own self better. He had a five-point list for learning more about yourself and I don’t remember the first three because I was so struck by the last two. Not that they were anything actually unique to the world of self-knowledge, but because he was a non-native English speaker.

Here are his two final points in knowing more about yourself.

4. What do you can?

5. What do you can’t?

This is not the way a native English speaker would say this. We often hear about what can you do and what can’t you do. But it sounds so much better to me this way. What do I “can” and what do I “can’t” because often these are just messages I give myself without benefit of trial and error.

Most of us know what it is we can do. Except for the people who believe they can do something that in actuality mostly sucks. I belong to a writing forum and people come and believe they can write because they are putting words down on the screen. This isn’t really what “writing” as a profession is about. There are many rules and regulations to writing and although they can be broken, one must know about them before they can be flaunted correctly. So these people come in and tell us they can write, post something awful, get a critique which they argue with, and often take their crayons and move on to a different place. The select few will listen, often with hurt feelings, and then work toward making their writing a more professional product.

Many of us believe we know what we can’t do. But the thing is, many of the things we can’t do are simply things we can’t do yet. We aren’t genetically unable to do them, we just haven’t yet mastered the task at hand. Many preschoolers can’t read. This doesn’t mean they will never read, but only that they can’t read – yet.

Many of us set out to try something new and quit before we have given ourselves a chance to see if we might turn the can’t into a can. I could delineate my time with CrossFit as a case in point. I couldn’t right up until I could. It took work and practice, but many of our can’t do that items are really part of this list.

“I can’t touch type.” “I can’t work a computer.” “I can’t …” fill in the blank. Some of our can’ts are simply due to lack of practice, some due to lack of motivation, some are due to that genetic limitation. I can’t fly. I might be able to learn to fly a plane, but I will never simply fly because humans aren’t built for that.

Many of the things on my “What do you can’t?” list are simply things I can’t do yet. Many are things I have no intention of ever doing because they don’t interest me. Learning to differentiate between the nuances of your list seems to be a lifelong issue with the list changing with time. Sometimes it changes because what was once on “can’t” has moved to your “can” list. That’s kind of cool.


I have been writing Little Bits of History for years now. I was writing them first in a shortened form for Really Good Quotes (I still write there, but now just once a week as the lead). I expanded the essays and added extra quotes and posted them online. I spent a year putting them up on Examiner.com and they paid me. Eventually they paid me less and less and added more and more advertising and it was so obnoxious, even I wouldn’t look at them. I couldn’t really ask anyone else to look.

Last November and December I was simply sick of writing them. Then it dawned on me. I could snag the year I put up on Examiner and because of copyright stuff, before I put them on my own site, I had to modify them. So I did. I added one more paragraph and posted an entire extra year of Little Bits of History. Just like that … I solved my problem.

Except I didn’t. I still have the problem. I loved writing them and I loved having written them. I’m just not all that thrilled with writing them, present tense. In the intervening year, I have gather a lot more followers. I get between 300 and 500 hits per day over there and only a meager few over here. I assume that history is a lot more exciting than my rambling about CrossFit and my ineptitude.

But I’m coming up to the end of another year. And I have to decide to keep writing or not. I’ve had to force myself to write one additional paragraph per day for this year. Now I’m looking at researching to find something that happened and something interesting and something I haven’t already written about. And it has to be something about which I can find some quotes to go with it. Oftentimes, the quotes – the copy and paste part – is the hardest part of the whole exercise.

I’ve lost my motivation. I’ve been at this for around five years now and it is losing its luster. It is a nonremunerated job I have set for myself. I’ve learned an inordinate amount of junk over the years while doing this and should be a whiz at Trivial Pursuit or games of that ilk. But I’m torn again about whether or not to continue.

I know I could place ads on the page and make some money off my work, but the amount of money I would make would be so little that it doesn’t really make the effort worthwhile and I find it intrusive and obnoxious. The reason I write the stuff is because I want to, at least in theory. I’ve essentially had a year off and I’m no closer to a decision about this than I was a year ago.

Then I start thinking about what this says about the rest of my life. I began CrossFit a year ago. Right now, I’m growing quickly enough to see constant improvement. I can see what I did on a WOD last year and compare it to the same WOD this year and see I have come light years in that time. But the improvements will slow and then come to a snail’s pace. Right now, I’m getting PRs frequently because I was such a weenie when I started that anything is better. But that will stop and then what will keep me going?

What drives any of us to do anything? What made me start posting LBoH at all? What made me start doing CrossFit? How do I keep those things important over time? What makes me do anything? What makes anyone do anything? We are motivated, I assume, to get enough resources to have food, clothing, and shelter. But after that, after those basic needs are met, what makes any of keep on going like a bunch of Energizer Bunnies?

I go to work, still, even though Dick is retired. Why? I really don’t know. We would have our basic needs covered even if I didn’t work. But I know that when I was unemployed for a few years, I began to lose my mind and began writing … LBoH. Ah, perhaps the clue to writing is not working? Probably not. I am only working three days a week and on the four I’m off, I don’t see myself sitting here slamming out articles.

So, all in all, I don’t know what to do. If I quit, is it laziness? Is it just that times change? Will I miss it? Will I be relieved? Those last two haunt me because I cannot answer my own questions. I know I’m lazy and always have been. I will work really hard to make things easier.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. The Pink Paradise put up a parking lot …  some song that I remember being sung my Melanie.

So, after 800 words of public soul-searching, I still have no answers. Damn.