Can #Socs

stream-of-consciousness-saturday-2018-19Can I do this? Can and can’t, words that hold such power. In English, they carry connotations of power, ability, almost strength. Other languages have a different emphasis. I remember a French penfriend in my teens asking me ‘tu sais nager?’ (do you know how to swim). The question jarred with me. Yes, I knew how to swim. What I was supposed to do with my arms and legs. It was actually doing it in a coordinated way that I struggled with. My brain knew how to swim, my body didn’t, therefore the answer in my mind was ‘I can’t swim’.

The 8YO can swim. I’m writing this on my phone in the gallery above the pool, watching her plough straight-limbed through the blue. From here, her early Saturday morning lesson, we’ll be heading on to her flute class, where for the first few weeks, her habitual cry was ‘I can’t!’

And my answer was invariably ‘you can’. A vain attempt to reassure and encourage. Because actually she wasn’t telling me that she was physically incapable of playing the flute. She was saying – quite correctly after only one or two lessons – that she didn’t know how to do it. If she’d said it in French ‘je ne sais pas’ rather than ‘I can’t’ perhaps I could have sympathised more.

What to make of this difference between know and can? A difference I’d never really considered before. 8YO both knows how to and can swim. Whereas I probably know, in theory, what my arms and legs are supposed to do for breast stroke, crawl and butterfly rather better than she does. I just can’t actually do any of them all that well. But the other day I picked up 8YO’s flute (which was mine when I was her age) and a piece of sheet music, and managed to bash out Danny Boy, despite not having played since 1984. How can I do that? I’m not particularly sporty, but I’ve definitely spent more time over the last 30 years on swimming than I have on music. My brain and fingers are equally rusty when it comes to playing the flute. And yet somehow, bafflingly, I not only know how to play the flute, but I still can. 

Written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G. Hill. This week’s prompt was a word beginning or ending with dom. If you’d like to take part the rules, borrowed from Linda’s site, are as follows:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

#SoCS #StreamofConsciousness


4 thoughts on “Can #Socs

  1. A very interesting distinction. Knowing how to swim reminds me of riding a bicycle. It’s hard to get the body to learn the rhythm to stay afloat or balanced on two wheels, but once you know, it’s always there, even if rusty. I do like “I don’t know how,” much better than “I can’t.” Some things, I just haven’t learned yet. But every second of practice is worthwhile if it’s something we want to do. My granddaughter has learned how to swim under water, but hasn’t quite figured out how to get her head up out of the water. Once she learns, it will be so clear.

    Liked by 1 person

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