Thursday, March 18, 2010
13. Try snowboarding and 14. Do a winter sport at night
Winter is winding down in a hurry. I saw quite a few people in shorts and t-shirts downtown today -- though of course that doesn't mean anything since I live in Burlington, Vermont, where people break out tank tops and flip-flops the moment the mercury goes over 32 degrees. But still, I think the days left for me to try winter sports are numbered (for winter 2010, anyway), and so I was thrilled at the opportunity to hit two things on my list at the same time. Thanks to yet another friend and SMC alum, Dave, tonight I was able to try snowboarding AND do a winter sport at night at Bolton Valley. I had been forewarned by many friends that snowboarding is hard, and that I should be prepared to fall a lot, so I think I was ready to be disappointed with what will probably be my last run at an outdoor winter sport for the season. Instead, I had a blast, and will definitely keep going with this one, though I might wait till next winter. I was lucky because lots of great circumstances came together. It was a wonderfully mild evening, which made the snow very forgiving, and being outside really enjoyable. Dave was an awesome teacher, and we had the whole area where he was teaching me to ourselves. And I think the timing of trying this one, coming after my new-bee experiences in a whole variety of other sports, made my expectations pretty humble.
On the drive home I was thinking about the fact that I'm 11 weeks into 2010 and 14 New Things into this endeavor. The experience of learning new things has taught me a lot beyond the specific items on the list, and two were particularly reinforced by trying snowboarding tonight. Neither are particularly original, but both are, I think, worth repeating. The lessons are these:
Keep an open mind. My sister Katrinka sometimes reminds me of a question from her favorite former college professor -- do we know what we like, or do we like what we know? The experience of trying new things has made me realize that there is a whole world of experiences that I've never had, and things I've never tried, and the biggest reason why is that I didn't get to them when I was a kid or teenager. Of the things I've tried so far, the three I'm very sure I will keep going with are rock climbing, skate skiing and snowboarding -- none of which I ever would have predicted I'd even try, let alone enjoy, only a few months ago. And that brings me to my second realization.
There's nothing to be afraid of. A funny thing about purposely being a beginner at many things is that it lets you see other beginners. This in turn reveals that kids are much, much better beginners than adults are. That's because they know there's nothing to be afraid of, a lesson that gets forgotten by adults like me, who start manufacturing all kinds of fears -- of failure, of looking like we don't know what we're doing (a particular flaw of academics, I think), of being seen in front of students or others making a mistake, of having to ask for help. Fourteen new things and countless mistakes and missteps later, I'm glad I tried them all, and to my knowledge, have suffered no serious damage in the estimation of my teachers -- including my students and former students. A very liberating realization, that one.
52 Ways to Say I Love You
With many thanks to Alexsis, who is studying abroad in Istanbul right now (and who is maintaining a fabulous blog on the experience at http://lifesashorttrip.blogspot.com/
good by hoscakal
May I have two beers please? Iki tane bira alabilimiyim luften?
I love you. Is seni seviyorum.
Ice skating. I'm kicking myself for not ice skating much this winter, but during this week of my spring break I've started to make amends and have gone three times since Sunday. One of the best (and sometimes worst) things about being an academic is that it's not a 9-to-5 schedule. On Monday and Wednesday I don't leave work until 7 and 10 pm respectively, but the flip side is that I have open space on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Starting next week I'm going to go ice skating at least twice a week to try to move toward my jumping and spinning new thing goals. Mondays will be 8:30 - 9:30 at Leddy Park (in the New North End) and Wednesday will be 11:30 - 12:30 at the Cairns Rink (in South Burlington) -- anyone who wants to do some skating with me on either day (and Friday morning is an option, too), let me know please.
Learn to cook Indian food. Tomorrow, March 19, I'm headed to my friend Tara's to get my first Indian cooking lesson. The lesson plan includes dahl, kari and khichidi -- can't wait!
Knit a pair of mittens. This one is actually a call for help. My sister Katrinka got me started when I was in Tacoma at Christmas, and I finished one there. This week I decided that I should give the other one a try and am almost done with the cuff. But then I have some tough stuff like the thumb, so if there is anyone reading this close by who's a pro at mitten-knitting, please shoot me a message.