Back in the day, when I was young and foolish, I used to make resolutions every New Year’s Eve. I’d give up swearing or eating refined sugar or losing my temper. But I lived in a house full of kids and cats, so that kind of resolution was patently ridiculous. I’d break every resolution within the first week.
By the time I was forty, I had decided to accept my vices as part of my charming personality. My stubbornness is “persistence.” The way I scream when a cat pees on the carpet is “colorful language.” It’s all about marketing. It’s also the privilege of getting older: once you’re past forty, people will just shrug and say, “Oh, that’s how she is.”
So instead of resolutions, I try to find something new to learn each year. I figure that focusing on learning something new will keep me out of trouble. That’s the logic of kindergarten teachers everywhere, and I figure what works for five-year-olds can work for me.
Since all the cool bloggers are doing decade-long retrospectives, I figured I’d look back ten years to see what new things I’ve learned. They include:
Learning to downhill ski.
Learning to belly dance.
Starting a blog.
A two-week white water rafting trip.
Learning to snowboard.
Taking a photograph every day for a year.
Learning to play Ultimate.
I’m not particularly good at most of these things – in fact, I’m only adequate at some of them – but that’s not the point. Learning as an adult is harder than learning as child, but that’s what makes it more valuable. My parents have been good role models for this kind of thing. My father took up the clarinet when he was in his early fifties, and taught himself the saxophone when he was 55. Both were in their 70s when they first used a computer and just last year, they learned how to use a cell phone. Their willingness to learn new things is one of the things that has kept them close to their grandchildren (that, and the fact that my mother is a terrific cook who often invites them over for delicious meals.)
During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want to learn this coming year. “Do you think I could learn to play the piano?” I asked my kids. All four play, and they’re all clearly talented. “Do you think I’d be any good at it?”
Boy in Black looked up from his laptop computer. “It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re good at it, so long as you enjoy it.”
He’s right, of course. So that’s my plan for 2010: I’m going to learn how to play the piano.