Our son sent a video of their 17-month-old daughter climbing on a stool in front of the bathroom vanity, hoisting her arms onto the countertop, holding her entire body weight up with her chubby legs dangling above the stepstool. She turned on the tap, leaned in and got a drink. Then, still holding her body weight with arms, she swung one leg into the sink and held her foot under the stream of running water.
Why? Because she could.
One winter day, two of our grands moved all the furniture in the front room around while I was working in the kitchen - heavy furniture, including a piano.
Shocked, I asked why they did it. The answer? Because they could.
A friend’s five-year-old son gave his little sister, the one with amazingly thick, beautiful, raven-black hair, a short haircut.
Because he could.
When our son was 6, he managed to pull apart our dining table by himself and inserted the heavy leaf that extended it to seat eight.
Asked why he did it, he said he thought maybe someone would stop by for lunch - and because he wanted to see if he could.
When my husband and I go somewhere, because he was a news photographer for years and knows every crook and bend in the city, he will take side streets, claiming it will shave a minute or two off our time.
Why does he take the shortest route? Because getting somewhere fast was part of a job he did well.
And because he can.
We all want to know if we can.
We want to know the things we can do and the things we can do well. We want to know where we might succeed and soar.
Children don’t run just because it is fun; they run because they want to know how fast their legs will carry them. Boys roughhouse, not just to drive their parents nuts, but because they want to know if they are strong.
Kids paint and draw because they want to know if anybody else can tell that the blob on the paper with four legs is a horse. Children at the beach build sand castles to see if they can create something that will remain upright. At least until the tide comes.
At every age and in every season of life there is satisfaction in finding the things we can do well - small things or big attention-grabbing things. They might be things like drawing, building, teaching, cooking, coding, composing, creating, exploring and experimenting, managing numbers, plotting projections, or mastering the art of nurturing others.
Every magnificent building we survey, every bridge that carries us across water, every computer we work at, every mechanic that gets us back on the road, every health worker that treats us, every work of art that moves us and every meal that is a delight to the senses, exists because someone discovered they could.
And then they did.
One of the best parts of life is discovering what we can do well and doing it - simply because we can.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.