Like most people, when I was young, I learned how to read. A few years later, I learned how to throw a curveball, one decent enough to occasionally fool my friends, but not good enough to get anyone out in a real game. (The one time my coach put me in, I got lit up beyond belief, so I think I’m still working on that one.)
We spend a lifetime learning things. As soon as we come out of the womb, we work to learn everything about our new world. We go from listening and watching to rolling over, crawling, and graduate to talking and one day walking.
We never stop learning. The process is never-ending. For much of my life, I’ve been taking classes to get a grade or learn a subject or a train for a career. With two of my children now in college, I’ve been thinking about the things I still want to learn simply for fun.
Here’s my top ten:
—How to surf. I’m about as coordinated as a penguin wobbling on the snow before it jumps into the ocean water, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams of becoming a beach bum. Can’t you imagine it, becoming a surfer dude, without a care in the world, in search of the perfect wave.
—How to draw and paint. I’d kill to be able to draw the scenes that the writer side of me envisions in my head. I end up drawing silly, little stick figures when the rest of world is living in a vibrant, color-TV world.
—How to play an instrument, preferably the piano. When I was a kid, I was all in when it came to sports. My brothers didn’t play an instrument. I wanted to be just like them so no trumpet or trombone playing for me. In fact, only a couple of my friends played one. I wanted to be out playing football or basketball. As I’ve gotten older, I see now the error of my ways. I would love to play guitar and join U2 for a set or how about getting up on stage on joining Billy Joel on the piano. Now that would be fun. I don’t see either of those happening any time soon, but I would settle for one day amusing my family with something as simple as chop-sticks.
—Learn calligraphy. I’ve tried my hand at calligraphy and I’m okay thanks to my strange, slasher style handwriting, but it’s nothing I can duplicate on a regular basis. I get excited and I start practicing, but in the end my letters end up looking like I’m a little kid just learning how to write cursive.
—Learn to fly. A former boss learned to fly crop duster planes as a kid and then later in life took classes and took up flying as a part-time hobby. I went up with him one time and it was the greatest thing. As much as I love an open road and a full tank of gas, I could get used to flying. There’s a big but though. I could just as easily see me putting the plane head-first into a field somewhere. No, my wife doesn’t have to worry about this one. Going hand-gliding or sky-diving, maybe, learning to fly, nah, at least not yet.
—Learn a language. I took Spanish as a kid and I still know a few words, but my understanding of other languages is pretty ugly. I lack the patience. I get frustrated too easily. Yes, I’m that ugly American pointing to a sign in Spain, and saying in slow, elongated speech: “um, Como se, um, um, okay what does that mean?”
—Learn photography and graphic design. In my job, I’ve worked with some wonderful photographers and designers, true artists. I love to try my hand at it, but then I get to see the really good ones do their job and then I look at your lame attempts and I cringe, shuffling back to my place. Yes, I am a writer, they are the maestro.
—Learn to whistle. I’m embarrassed to say I never learned how to whistle. You know what I mean, to be one of those guys who doesn’t have a care in the world whistling some tune. Heck, I’d settle for being able to let out a really good whistle with your fingers that catches someone’s attention. Same thing with snapping my fingers to be. I try snap fingers along some song and, instead of a twack, out comes a thud.
—Learn CPR and first aid. Self preservation. I guess I figure if I’m able to help someone else in a moment of need, then maybe, just maybe someone else will be prepared to help me when I need it.
—Learn to solve rubik’s cube. Okay, I’m jealous. When I was a kid, one of my best friends was a rubik’s cube master. He could complete them in minutes. I couldnt’ wait to get one. When I finally did, I couldn’t wait for the talent to take over and for it to be breeze too for me. It never came. I would turn it this way and that way. My son now likes to say that it’s simple geometry. Well for me, it felt like complex Calculus. When I finally had it together after months of work, I didn’t want to mess it up again. When my friend saw that I had finally solved the cube, he quickly grabbed it from me, took a few turns and messed it up again. I nearly cried.
What is it you want to learn?