Can’t / Edgar A. Huest

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.’


This past week I began a new book, “A Field Guide For The Hero’s Journey”, and this poem was in the first several pages. To recap one of my personal goals this year, I wanted to read more books, and not just mindlessly read, but contemplate, learn, study, and grow, and the more I read, the more I am so awakened to our personal power that is waiting to be nurtured and waiting to bloom.


In a world of trends and instant likes to question if who we are is really worth something, even if the quantity we are judging is something so futile as strangers on the internet and their approval of us. How do we break this disease of self-indulgent self-centeredness while still navigating the importance of having confidence in who we are, what we believe, and what we are capable of accomplishing? I believe the best compass for this journey is self-reflection and self-respect, paired with intention and deliberation.

When we make deliberate choices, full of intention with our self-respect in mind, and end the process by then taking the time needed to sit down and reflect on what we could of done better, how we improved, what things worked well, what things need to be changed, we set ourselves up to be in a place ready and willing to say yes to life’s opportunities. “Can’t”, no longer fits into our narrative when we train ourselves to always see our capabilities and that starts with acting on deliberate choices.


A friend of mine from the One Little Word project that I’m participating in this year sent me this quote earlier today, “Remember, your dreams are as hungry as your demons. Make sure you’re feeding the right ones.” In tough seasons, in hardship, do not fall by the wayside. Do not quit on the notions of someone else’s thoughts of you. Do not feed into the lies. Do not give into the doubts. Feed your faith, take the times to learn who you are and then be confident in that person. Set yourself free.