Life is too short to only dream
For me exploring something new is like discovering a part of the world that I didn’t know existed. When I say “something new” I mean a skill, activity, or anything else I’ve never tried before. I was once someone that would become interested in a topic that I had read in a book or saw on the net and wanted to know more. I would think about giving it a try. I’d have to read every book on the subject or spend time researching it on the internet. The problem was I’d never get past the curiosity stage. Whether it was fear of failing or cost ( mostly fear I think), I became stuck rarely trying anything new. This continued until one day I made up mind to do more and dream less.
The excitement of learning something new is essential to maintaining a fulfilling life. It breaks up your routine and forces you out of your comfort zone. I’m not saying that you should be constantly taking on new pursuits, changing interests like you change your underwear. What I’m saying is don’t be afraid to give a new interest a try. If it interests you then work on it for six months and decide if you want to continue with it. If it’s not for you then move on and try something different. Tim Ferriss has stated that to become 95% proficient at a new skill, it can be done in as little as 6 months, with the right determination and planning. Mastering the last 5% could take another 10 to 20 years of practice. So for a small investment of time you can thoroughly explore your new found interest.
I find it rewarding to take a hobby or skill as far as I can possibly take it. Delving deep into it to see what level I can achieve. What I found difficult was breaking out of my comfort zone and trying something new. It was fear that was holding me back that was the problem. Thinking that I could never achieve what I saw online or in books. Or fearing that I would fail or suck at it. I forgot that starting something new has a completely different feeling than spending time working on a skill that you have known for years or even decades.
A few years ago I decided to avoid the trap of only dreaming about attempting something new and experiencing things through books. I took up learning Spanish, poker, fishing, blogging and playing the guitar. Some of these new pursuits have become new passions of mine and have become a part of my being. Finding time to pursue these new interests can be difficult. I had to look at where I was spending my spare time and see if I could free some up by spending less time watching TV or other time wasting activities. The time was there, I just needed to decide how I wanted to spend it.
To the lake, I went
It can be awkward and embarrassing and even uncomfortable at first to learn something new. To help get over these fears I needed to learn to leave my ego at the door and embrace the experience no matter what I looked like. The first time I tried casting a bait caster fishing reel is a memory I won’t soon forget. Learning to cast with one of these reels is difficult and humbling, to say the least. I’d guess that it’s as challenging to learn as a fly rod. I began by watching all the Youtube videos on how to use a bait caster. I learned how to set one up and the proper way to cast. I thought to myself that this was going to be easy. I arrived at my favourite lake on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Since it was such a nice day the fishing wharf already had four anglers on it. I found a spot beside a fly fisherman and warmed up with one of spin casting reels. After a few minutes, I mustered up the courage to pick up my new bait caster.
The main problem with this type of reel is if it’s not set up correctly or if you cast it wrong, the result will be what’s called a birds nest. That’s when your lure hits the water and your reel keeps spinning and ends up looking like the picture. I was aware of this hazard but I figure I learned enough theory from Youtube that this wouldn’t happen. So I wound up and gave my lure a toss. The lure went almost 90 degrees to my left and almost hit the poor fly fishing standing next to me. Luckily he was tying on a new fly so his line was not in the water, otherwise, my line would have crossed his line ( a big no-no ). He gave me a look, part surprise, and part annoyance. I quickly told him a sheepish sorry and looked down at my reel to see to my horror that my reel looked like the picture . It took me a good ten minutes to untangle my line and during that time to think, I came to the realization that this was not going to be easy. After fixing my line I gave it another go, this time, my lure hit the water 10 feet in front of me which was nowhere near where I was aiming. At least I didn’t come close to hitting anyone that time. The result was the same, a huge birds nest and another ten minutes spent detangling. Feeling defeated and slightly humbled I put my rod down and finished my day using my spinning rod.
I could have given up on trying to learn this difficult skill but I was determined to figure it out. Over the next month every time I went out fishing I would spend an hour practicing with my new rod and gradually I started to figure it out. Now it is one of my favourite rods to use. The sense of accomplishment I feel knowing that I didn’t give up is tremendous.
Life is like a dance
Alan Watts describes life as an experience to be enjoyed. To be in the present moment and look beyond your current horizons, to avoid waiting for tomorrow to live your dreams. Don’t wait, do these things now while our minds and bodies are sharp. You don’t want to look back with regret for not doing the things that would have brought you a meaningful experience. Or reach retirement and feel that your time is short and then have a sense of urgency to accomplish your dreams and end up checking items off your bucket list like it’s some kind of to-do list. So get out and try new experiences. Enjoy the highs and lows of the process and remember that life is about the journey and being in the moment, not a contest to be won. Listen to how Alan explains it. This will inspire you.
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