Did I get your attention? Are you sure you know the word? Well here it is – CAN’T. Yes, it is a most unsavory word. When I was teaching modern dance at Burbank High School, I would introduce new movements and positions to my students. Many times these new movements were unusual, different, and maybe even hard. I broke the movement down into short segments and slowly built the sequence. Even when we stretched at the beginning of class, I would hear moans and whines of “I can’t do that.” “It’s too hard.” My muscles/legs/back hurt.”

I usually gave them the “ can’t” talk early in the semester and repeated it several times throughout the year. They would groan when I started with “the dirtest word” talk, yet they seemed to say it less and laugh a bit more when I said it. Then one day, a very bright young lady brought the following poem to me saying “You are not going to believe what my mother found in a book of poetry she was reading.

To this day I smile and know that this poem is a relevant as ever before. Now, the few times I catch myself complainng about new challenges, I pull out and read OUT LOUD, the following poem. I even use gestures and voice changes to follow the thought. I don’t dare you, I share with you a moment of thought in you life. Enjoy


By Edgar Albert Guest

Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day:
It rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can’t is the father of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing;
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day shall gain.

Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition,
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man;
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: “I can.”