“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts,
The impossibles, the won’t.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen to me….
Anything can happen child.
Anything can be.”
— Shel Silverstein
For the first 20 years of my live I didn’t think I could.
Because I listened to the couldn’ts. You can’t jump off
That chair. You’ll break your neck. You can’t leave the
Refrigerator door open. You’ll spoil the food. You can’t skip math that
test. You can’t go to school without wearing
Underwear. You can’t pick your nose because … well because.
And, even if you could, you shouldn’t. And, there was always a
Reason why you couldn’t. Or, so it seemed.
I grew up in a normal house where we followed the rules. We did
Everything by the book. No challenges. No variations. No hits. No
Runs. No errors. I remember being invited to my friend Robert’s
apartment for dinner. I didn’t like what his mother made for dinner.
So, I refused to eat it. “You can’t refuse to eat my food.” I didn’t say a
word to challenge her.
But, I didn’t eat her food. I was never invited back. Well, I guess
That was my first challenge to you shouldn’t.
And, now that I think about it. I did scream to all bloody hell when I
Was caged into a “playpen” when I was about 2 years old. So, I
Guess I just had that rebellious thing in me from the start.
When I was 7 or 8 my mother decided I needed piano lessons. All
Seemed to be going well until the teacher kept swatting the back of
My hand with a ruler every time I hit a wrong note. Clearly, we had a
Different interpretation of what the right note was. Those lessons
Ended quickly. Come to think about it, I should have swatted her.
And, a few years later I took up the trombone. Again, all seemed to
Be going along pretty well. Until… the music teacher told me
You couldn’t .. you mustn’t .. you shouldn’t. I must have had a deaf ear.
I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Well, the Memorial Day
Parade came and went. And, so did my trombone career.
They say that the age of reason starts around age 7 or 8. I must have
Been a late starter. Because I didn’t challenge “reasoning” until I was
18 or 19. Of course, the timing wasn’t exactly great. That’s exactly
When I got drafted into the Army and soon realized that this mustn’t,
Should’t and couldn’t went out the window. Because there were
Three ways to do things in the Army. The right way. The wrong way.
And, the Army way. So, I had to defer my rebellious ways for a couple
By then, the age of Aquarius began. You could grow your hair. You
Could wear torn jeans. You could walk around in sandals. You could
Do whatever you wanted when you wanted. Well, as long as you could
Figure out how to earn some cash. It was liberating time for me.
If I found a good reason, I could do what I wanted to do and where I
Wanted to do it. There wasn’t any mustn’t, should’t or couldn’t. If you
drove on the right side of the road and didn’t speed, you were good
to go on your merry way.
So, I followed my star and had a bunch of fun. I released the shackles
Of impossibilities and realized that anything was possible if you set
Your mind to it.
Now I’m in my later years. The mustn’t, shouldn’t, and couldn’ts take
On a new definition. You shouldn’t step over that parking bumper
Because you could trip. You mustn’t forget to take your pills. You
shouldn’t go out without a walking cane.
You mustn’t eat that or you’ll get constipated.
You couldn’t do100 pull ups. Not in a million years.
In any case, I’m glad I found my mantra.
Anything can happen child. Anything can be.