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What coping mechanisms do you use when trying something new? Do you dive right in or do you wait, think things through? Are you paralyzed by fear? When I try a new skill, and it’s underlined with fear, I procrastinate.

For the last two days, I’ve put off a task I need to do. It involves a story board and sticky notes. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Not really, but in my world it’s making me anxious. 

A silver lining of the pandemic in an otherwise moth-eaten year, is the availability of online learning. I’ve taken a number of writing courses I never would have been able to if they hadn’t been virtual. As a result, I’m trying a new writing technique that reminds me of high school math homework when I only had 50% in the course. It’s going to be trial and error and I don’t like it. I want to do it perfectly on the first attempt. I want to walk away, leaving that white board empty because I know I won’t get it right on the first or fifth attempt. 

But I have to try.

Because if we don’t try we’ll never succeed or fail or learn. We remain static. Just like the character arcs I’m working on, if I want to affect change I have to grow and learn. The first step is trying.

One of the greatest tries was attempted forty years ago by a young cancer survivor by the name of Terry Fox. In 1980, he endeavoured to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. The incredible part of this try was he’d already lost a leg to cancer three years before. He was running with a prosthesis. (Remember this was 40 years ago.) The Marathon of Hope started in April 1980 in St. John’s NFLD, and Terry ran until just past Thunder Bay, ON where on Sept 1st, 1980, he had to stop because the cancer had returned. Forty years later, Terry Fox is a Canadian hero and almost every Canadian knows who he is. Every September, the Terry Fox Run is held across Canada and in schools. I’ve been following the FB page of the Terry Fox Foundation and I’ve noticed that they’ve referred to his run as “Terry’s Try.”

The Marathon of Hope wasn’t completed by Terry. He passed away from cancer shortly after having to stop his run. But his try lives on because in the process, he inspired a whole country to run and raise money for cancer. Every. September. Forty. Years. 

And he did so much more. He inspired us. He drew us together as a nation.

What if Terry Fox never tried to run after losing his leg? What if he gave up the idea of the Marathon of Hope because it was too far-fetched? Too hard? Where would cancer research be forty years later? Who would have given cancer patients and their families, and regular Canadians, hope? 

Terry tried and from that grew hope and change. 

Although my little try isn’t even in the same stratosphere as the Marathon of Hope, I wonder what we miss when we quit before we even begin. When we walk away because we doubt or listen to other people’s opinions. We quit because it’s too hard. Or worse, we never get off the couch or put down our phones because, why bother? 

Our tries don’t have to be big or maybe they could be. But it’s the trying that counts. Maybe we’ll fail but what will we learn? Who will we inspire? What change can come about? Maybe we’ll succeed but we’ll never know unless we take a crack at it. 

What’s your try? Maybe it’s striving to be a little more kind. Maybe it’s attempting to work out that math problem or stick to a budget. Maybe it’s trying to smile more and frown less. Maybe it’s venturing out a play a game or sport our kids love. Maybe it’s making room to have a family dinner one night a week. Maybe it’s taking a risk and writing, painting or dancing. Going after that dream. Maybe it’s trying to get into university or attempting to make the most of online learning. Maybe it’s seeking out the good in every day. 

All our tries add up to something and even though we may never see the domino effect, they still matter. So why not get up and just try ______?

If you want to learn more about Terry Fox click here. I have no affiliation with the Terry Fox Foundation. I was ten when he passed through Oxford County but was away at camp and didn’t get to see him but he still made it into my ten year old self’s journal because he was an inspiration to us all.