Aging: “I Can’t Do It!”

“I can’t do it.”

walker-clipart-l_050Have you ever heard four more unAmerican words in your life? “I can’t do it.”

“Of course you can,” says your friendly neighbor who knows nothing about your condition except that American mandate. “Crawl if you have to,” your neighbor thinks to herself but thankfully did not say out loud.

“I can’t do it.” Weak. Inept. Tired. Ailing. The dictionary is full of synonyms to describe your present condition. “You can do it if you really wanted to,” says your good neighbor but thankfully did not say out loud.

“Your brother did it, so why can’t you?” says the person who measures everything in life that cannot be measured.

Are you just lazy? Yeah, that’s it. Are you just giving in? No, that’s it.

You should be exported to some third world country where everybody thinks and feels that way. “I just can’t do it.”

At Mass one day, I said that Peggy Wood sang “Climb Every Mountain” in “The Sound of Music.” I was right but I was also wrong. I read that her voice was too weak to carry that grand, story-changing song during a dramatic moment in the film. It was dubbed. It was sung by Margery McKay. I’ve never heard of Margery but I’ve never forgotten Peggy Wood.

She starred in shows in London and New York and was now reduced; no, now diminished to standing during filming and mouthing words that she could no longer sing herself. (She mouthed words that once she could have sung herself, effortlessly, but no more.) I read that she chose Margery because her voice closely matched her own.

Did Peggy just “give in” or did she “shop before she dropped,” as they say?

Many older adults have told me over the years that you simply are no longer able to do what you both enjoyed and looked forward to doing. And you told me in those very same words, “I can’t do it anymore.”

It doesn’t matter to me that you are no longer able to do it, I admire that at one time, for a moment, as Camelot sings, “for one shining moment” you were able to do it.

So take up your walker, motor up your scooter, power up your oxygen and don’t tell me that you “can’t do it” now. You’re still doing it now but only in different ways.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on
“Letters From My Cats,”

a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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