Saturday, December 12, 2009
About 52 New Things
52 New Things started out as a Halloween weekend conversation at a wine bar, with my friends Siham and Leah. We compared notes about what an abysmal year 2009 had been, and shared some ambitious travel plans for 2010. When Leah followed up a few days later with a list of new things she wanted to see, the idea started taking on a life of its own and I realized that 2010 could be the year of not only travel but all kinds of new things. I started compiling a list and sharing it with friends and family, and soliciting their ideas and help.
The list is purposely incomplete because I'm still thinking of things I want to see and learn and do, and hearing from people who want to participate in different things on the list. But the plan is to try, visit or experience 52 new things or places -- one for each week of 2010. The list is focused on four main categories: travel (to countries and places I've never been); tackling things I'm terrible at or intimidated by (a long potential list including many things technological, mechanical, sports-related and creative or artistic); specific things I've always wanted to know how to do (everything from knitting mittens to baking croissants); and experiences I thought would be fun or have said for years I'd do (like ice skating at Rockefeller Center in New York City).
Some friends and family have made fabulous additional suggestions for the list -- everything from from fencing and falconry (thanks, Kimberly) to learning to say "I love you" and "2 beers, please" in 52 languages (brilliant idea from Matthew). And lots of people have volunteered to teach me things on my list or do them with me (or in tandem from a distance). My hope is to post things I'm planning in advance throughout the year to see if others want to join in.
The plan was to officially embark on 52 New Things on January 1, 2010. But since I'll be in Nepal (the first place on my travel list), and since my friend Julia had volunteered to help me set up this blog (the first "technological" thing on my list) when she came up for my birthday on December 10, I've decided to get a running start on the year and begin. Some people are compiling their own lists, and if anyone else is setting up a blog, please let me know so I can link it to this one. I'm still taking ideas and looking for people who want to do things on the list together, so feel free to write about either.
I thought I'd close this first post with a photo from last summer when I tried something else I'd never done, though millions of women around the world do it expertly everyday -- carrying water on my head. Turns out it's incredibly hard, and not mastered the day before you head back to the US. But my friend Tulia (featured in the picture) was very patient, everyone else who saw it was very amused, and I was humbled at the thought that here was yet another thing that any local young Tanzanian girl could do much, much better than a grown-up American.