It’s funny how long it can take to unlearn all the stuff you were taught as a kid that screwed you up. I was taught some pretty messed up stuff, such as “there’s no point in writing or dancing or learning to play the guitar, because when you grow up and have a family you won’t have time for those things anyway” (an almost-verbatim quote of my grandmother). Some lessons were subtler, like “if something doesn’t come easily, it’s a waste of time to work hard to learn it” and “if you’re not good at something, might as well not do it” (for instance, when I finally got interested in music for real and annoyed my parents by laboriously teaching myself Queen songs out of a songbook on our Yamaha home organ).
It took me a stupidly long time (and a lot of therapy) to even realize how wrong those notions are. It wasn’t until I was newly divorced and turning 30 that I really twigged the importance of learning new things. That was when I first took up weight training, a real departure for a nerd who was not picked dead last for teams in gym class only because I wasn’t “the fat kid”. It’s pretty clear I have no talent for strength training (even with the help of a trainer, I’m still in the “high intermediate” range for a woman my age) but I really like being in the gym, lifting weights, and training to be a tough old bird.
One cool thing about lifting is that on some level you’re always a newb. There are so many different factors to take into account. A lot depends on how well you’re eating and sleeping, what’s going on with your health and your mood, and maybe you think you’ve got it nailed down, but then you have to work around an injury, and you’re always getting older, and gradually you have to start taking wear-and-tear into account, and all the ways you’re physically changing. That’s good, though; keeps it interesting.
Something about getting older brings these things further to the front of your mind. As I approach 50, I’m giving more thought to how I want to age. Recently I was inspired by an interview that Stephen Colbert did with Jane Fonda on “The Late Show” in which she talked about feeling like a newbie. (Why CBS didn’t leave that bit in when they posted the video, I don’t know. They really should have left that and scrapped the emoji bit.) I love what she has to say about learning from failure and learning to do new things, even as she’s pushing 80. My takeaway is, do what makes you happy and don’t be afraid to suck.
So if anyone’s still wondering why I’m doing this blog, that’s why. I’m no good at pretending to be “normal”, and it makes me unhappy to try. In that vein, I’m also getting back into juggling (sucking pretty hard each time I try to learn a new trick) and having another go at Twitter (which makes me feel old – all the more reason to try). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with my trainer at the gym, where hopefully I will suck a little less. Hm, that didn’t come out quite right, did it…?