The other night at dinner some friends and Brian and I were talking about how high school is such a good time to learn and perfect new skills. You want to learn how to play guitar? You can come home and practice after school for hours. Want to plant a garden? You get the seeds, do all the research, and then tend to your plants. Once you get older you have too many other responsibilities to do and you fail to make the time to learn many new skills (that aren’t required for your job).
However, isn’t this a poor way to look at life? We give up pursuing the things that are interesting to us (and when you pursue things with deliberation, you generally get better at them!) just to “exist”. So many families are busy these days chasing after the American dream. (PS. side note – stop watching TV! It will give you hours of your life back to do and try new things).
I want to be a skilled person. I want to invest in myself, providing time to learn new things every year. Sure, that will look differently as family life changes, but I think it’s important to look at life through the eyes of kids.
Today we went to a summer picnic sponsored by Brian’s work. It was at Yolo Land and Cattle Co. Ranch, out in the countryside. We had a cow pie throwing competition. It was funny to see the adults all squeamish — the cow pies were dried! It wasn’t like it was really that gross. Most of them were hesitant to participate. The kids, on the other hand, were excited to participate in the competition! The one little boy was playing in the dirt, exploring the ranch with all he had. And then the adults were huddled under the shade drinking their beers. The little kid was probably the one learning more. He was kicking the dirt, seeing how far he could make it go. The other kids were experimenting with which size cow pie would go the farthest. I heard one older man (after participating in the contest) say that he couldn’t wait to wash his hands, because that was just so gross. It was funny to me, in contrast to the kids, who didn’t really think anything of it. They thought it was fun. It was an adventure. The old man went back to his comfortable shady position after washing his hands in the bathroom.
At what point in life did we as adults lose our sense of adventure? I know many kids think that adults are “boring”. Yeah, kid, I think so too.
Get your hands messy!
While we were driving up to the ranch, Brian and I had an interesting conversation about practice, specifically regarding how PE in school teaches kids new skills and makes them do things at which they’re not necessarily good. I (only-half-) jokingly said that they needed to have PE in companies, where everyone would need to take a break from work and learn a new sport that week. I feel like most people would hate that! “I’m not good at sports”; “I don’t know how to play”. So. Who cares? That’s the point. You have to practice in order to get good at things. If you haven’t ever tried yoga, how do you know you won’t be good at it. “I did it once. It was hard and not fun.” OMG. Seriously, I’ve heard people say these things. Look, did you try riding a bike once and tell your mom “I tried it. I fell off and it hurt. I am not good at it.”?! No! You go back up and tried 300 times more before you did it! These days it seems like people hit a wall and they stop. Climb over it! Don’t you see that if you took a ladder, with lots of little steps, there would be a way to scale the wall and stand on the top, conquering it? And how accomplished you would feel! How much adventure you could add to your life if you’d only get out of your comfort zone of doing things in which you’re already accomplished.
At what point did we lose our intrinsic motivation to get better? Or maybe you never had it in the first place. Maybe you only practiced piano because your mom set the timer. But you still got better at piano, right? Because you had to practice. Maybe you need to set the timer for yourself and don’t get up until you finish practicing your writing, or your new instrument, or your knitting. I bet if you spent 30 minutes each day practicing a new skill, talking with new people, or trying new recipes, you’d find that you got better. You might even uncover a new hobby that you really, really like.
So, with the end of summer approaching, and school starting back up (not for me! but off to start work!), kids are getting back to go practice. As an adult, what are you going to practice and try?
Be a kid and jump! Take a risk. And when you fall down, get back up and do it again.
I have tried cooking a lot of new recipes. A few have really flopped and won’t be made again; we’ve found a few new ones that we really like. But, I totally failed in canning the other night. Ugh. But you know what, you try again. This time, I need to get the right tools – a pressure canning pot! You fall down and get back up again. You can see some of our new favorite recipes here on Pinterest. Yes, I’ve made almost all of those the past month! Crazy!
Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re going to try!