There's no such word

Stephen Trussel

I'll never forget my third grade teacher. Her name was Mildred T. Pretz, and when we students spoke of her we played with her name as children often do, and called her "Mrs. Pretzel". She was a little older than our other teachers, and rather strict, often keeping me after school to redo my penmanship exercises, or something else she had found wrong with my work.

One day, after I had tried and tried to get the writing right, I complained to her, saying "I can't do it, I just can't get it right." She looked seriously at me and said "There's no such word as can't." "What?" "There's no such word as can't," she said again, "just keep trying until you can." And that was that. She walked away, leaving me to struggle with my exercises.

I puzzled over her words that night, and for many days after. Finally I had it! "You can't stand in the middle of the sun," I thought. But then the idea came to me that if you had a proper suit that could take the high heat, maybe you really could. Mrs. Pretz was right! There really was no such word as can't! And so I learned a lesson that has colored my entire life, that when you really want to do something, you must never give up, you must never say that terrible word. I learned that no matter how difficult, when something is important, it's not only true that you can do it, but that you must!