- You have 15 minutes and 15 minutes only. Time yourself.
- No making changes once the list is completed beyond correcting spelling mistakes.
- Be honest. It's okay if it's silly or strange or weird or disconcerting.
- Resist the urge to explain yourself. Wait and see what other people will ask you to explain after they read your list.
- I can type 90+ words a minute.
- I can curl my tongue up into a tube or into what we used to call a three-leaf clover. I think some others call it a flower.
- I can understand fluent spoken Modern Hebrew.
- I can speak Modern Hebrew semi-fluently.
- I can spot a misplaced comma or a sentence fragment in the middle of a bunch of prose in a millisecond.
- I can write long, articulate blog posts in under 30 minutes. (I think they are articulate; you think they are long. At least one of these things is true.)
- I can change a diaper.
- I can learn mishna in Hebrew, usually with the aid of Kehati.
- I can make a very yummy lasagna and sneak all kinds of healthy things like tofu and wheat germ into it without anyone being the wiser.
- I can make a good tofu stir-fry.
- I can do very well on standardized tests involving analogies, reading comprehension, writing, correcting grammatical errors, and logic. (At least, I could six years ago, the last times I took a practice standardized test. I think I still could, although I haven't taken a real standardized test in probably ten years.)
- I can walk two miles to work without feeling like it's far.
- I can last indefinitely without caffeine.
- I can enjoy an 80% cocoa dark chocolate bar without finding it too bitter for words.
- I can wiggle my ears.
- I can play hopscotch.
- I can jump on a Pogo ball (although I haven't done so in probably eighteen years or so, and it probably couldn't support my weight at the moment, so maybe I should remove this one).
- I can plan and execute an enjoyable commencement ceremony for eight adult learners.
- I can give a rousing commencement speech written on the day of commencement.
- I can wash dishes really, really well the first time. (No oil residue, no bits of food left on them, including outsides of pots, handles, covers to things.)
- I can sleep for 10-12 hours on a Friday night.
- I can write and edit a 24-page course catalog.
- I can write an essay on prosbul and heter mechira by finding the appropriate gemaras, learning them, and consulting various secondary and tertiary sources.
- I can ride a bicycle.
- I can wear jeans to work on Fridays.
- I can reach things at the front of the third shelf in my kitchen cabinets without standing on a chair.
- I can build a bed from raw lumber.
- I can operate an electric drill.
- I can operate an electric circular saw.
- I can operate an electric sander.
- I can get a screw out of a hole even if it's been totally stripped from the inside.
- I can use a vise grip.
- I can fix the couch I inherited from my grandmother with a drill, a wooden dowel, and some wood glue.
- I can use wood filler.
- I can sand wood.
- I can stain wood.
- I can get friends to travel far to help me build a bed.
- I can do my own taxes without the use of tax software, even when Schedule C and two different states are involved.
- I can walk up to the sixteenth floor for a Shabbat meal.
- I can make a really yummy green salad.
- I can make microwave popcorn.
- I can keep my houseplants alive for eight years running (African violet and philodendron, purchased at the beginning of my sophomore year of college).
- I can travel alone in Brazil.
- I can take pretty pictures.
- I can paint flowers, mountains, birds, and fish with watercolors, using Japanese painting techniques. (At least, I could from the ages of 7-14. Haven't painted in about 13 years, though. Wonder if it's a skill you lose?)
- I can make things out of Fimo or Sculpy.
- I can do quite well at the game Taboo.
- I can supervise a five-year-old on the playground and join in her fantasy games.
- I can daven weekday mincha by heart.
- I can write a 116 page senior thesis on women college students during World War I, and their changing attitudes towards the war and towards woman suffrage that receives a grade of magna cum laude.
What can you do?
I actually didn't enjoy this exercise at all. Each time I wrote an "I can..." sentence I thought of all of the things that I cannot do. And, lo, but the list is long! Reading through my list, and others', also highlighted for me all the ways in which I am not where I wanted to be or thought I would be at 28.