Besides the ever important fact that today is Cranky Thursday (as is every other Thursday), today is kind of a big deal. It’s a big deal in the “things are about to change” way, not the Ron Burgundy way. Today I’m starting training again with a private teacher.

I’m going back into the world of opera and performance.

It’s been too long.

I’m scared.

I’m not sure if I can do this.


This morning I was lying in bed and in between dozing off and having nightmares about orange cleaner (I hate it!) I was thinking about this whole thing. I’m nervous and I don’t feel prepared. I’m worried about the cost and time involved. I’m scared that the teacher I want to work with will tell me that I’m not good enough. Can I actually do this?

Then, it hit me. It’s not a matter of “can I,” it’s a matter of “will I.” There are so many areas of my life where I ask “can I.” Can I finish losing the weight? Can I actually handle this job? Can I continue to get my ass out of bed on time every day? Can I learn to be less shy and more authentic? Can I muster the courage and discipline to become what I really want to be? Can I actually be an opera singer?

I’m asking the wrong question and it changes the whole picture.

It’s not a matter of whether or not I have the ability; I do, it’s a matter of whether or not I have the discipline; I might.

Back when I went to church and didn’t make jokes about going to hell because I eat bacon, I was taught many times that perhaps the reason my prayers weren’t being answered was because I was asking the wrong question. At the time, that sort of response just pissed me off and made me feel guilty. Now, though, I realize that there’s something to the whole “am I asking the right questions” thing. That’s still a shitty context to use it, but in other areas I think it makes sense.

While the questions “can I” absolves me of any real responsibility, the questions “will I” puts it squarely back on my shoulders. I think that’s why “can I” is such a comfortable fall back. If it’s a matter of simply not having the ability, the failure isn’t my fault. I mean, who’s going to blame me for the fact that I can’t sprout wings and fly away. That is a “can’t.” You may blame me, though, for the fact that, over the last several months, “won’t” has been the modus operandi for me not eating the right things, not getting out of bed to run or do strength training, not getting to sleep on time to do so, and so many other things.

“Won’t” in the form of fear is why I haven’t been working with a teacher.

It isn’t just about where the responsibility lies, though; it’s also about how I perceive myself. The “can I” question implies that I am not the capable, intelligent, young woman that I am. It implies that I’m inevitably prone toward failure (something I’ve always believed about myself). The “can I” question strips me of empowerment and tells me a story about myself that isn’t true.

The reality of it all is that unless it defies natural laws, “can I” is a moot point. The answer is always yes. The question that really matters is “will I.” It’s in the “will I” that the trajectory of my life is determined. It’s the choices that I make, moment by moment, that make up the illusion of “can I” and the reality of “I can.”

I guess I’m choosing to take on both the personal responsibility and the empowerment. The result of doing so looks a lot more exciting and fulfilling than the alternative. I’m not sure how I was content for so long with the result of the “can’t” and “won’t” but I’m not anymore.

While I haven’t been making much progress lately on weight loss, I have been working hard on the internal and emotional issues. I’m not positive that I’m ready to care again, yet, about losing weight or the number on my scale, but I’m getting close. I’m starting to crave the feeling of running and broccoli sounds a lot like comfort food again.

Today, though, my focus isn’t on that. Today I’m focusing on the “can” and “will” and following through without focusing on the list of hypothetical disasters that could come as a result.

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