When I was little I idolised my sister. She was five years older than me and I thought that everything she did was amazing. She was a champion runner, great softball player and a gymnast. She had what I thought was the perfect figure.
When she went to high school I listened eagerly to her stories about new friends with exotic names and knew I wanted to be just like her. When I finally made high school I burst with pride every time I was allowed into the Year 12 corridor because I had a sister in Year 12.**
My sister was also my greatest teacher.
When she was maybe around nine or ten she started gymnastics. And because my sister was going ... I went too. Every Wednesday afternoon we'd slide into our blue nylon leotards and I'd pretend I looked as good as her in it, and head down to the gym. It was at an old gym in the basement of an RSL with a boxing ring and one of those body shaped steam machine that boxers would use to sweat off the weight pre-bout.
One day she came home from the gym in tears. She couldn't do a handstand. She would never do a handstand. Everyone else could do a handstand .... except her. I watched my Dad try to reason with her while she stamped her foot and shouted 'I can't'. A couple of hours of solid practice (and a load of patience from my Dad) *** and she could handstand with the best of them. And I do believe she can still handstand (and cartwheel) to this day.
Now, whenever I think 'I can't', I think about that handstand and know, that one day I will.
** She was dead handy for bludging 40 cents for a golden rough or buttered finger bun.
***Actually i had a similar repeat session when I was 14 and trying to sew a baby's quilt for home science. I threw the scissors across the room and shouted 'I can't'. A couple of hours and, again, a load of patience from my Dad and I had a quilt. My daughter still has that quilt.