My son is learning how to swim. After a few years of being tentative around the water, he suddenly loves it — grinning throughout every minute of the splashing and kicking and flailing and sputtering that inevitably mark the early days of swimming. He hasn’t figured out the difference between a jump and a belly flop yet, and he earnestly looks up for approval every time he slams his stomach onto the water. I try to smile encouragingly when it happens, and immediately brace myself for him to do it again. He “floats,” if only for a few seconds before the teacher scoops his legs up using one of those styrofoamy noodle things. And when he gets out, we talk in detail about how it feels to float, wondering if it’s how astronauts feel when they’re walking on the moon. When he watches the adults gliding through the water a few lanes over, his eyes glimmer. “I’m going to swim like that someday,” he says confidently. “You sure will,” I reply.
Eagerly strapping on his little neon green goggles, my son is intoxicated by the thrill of learning something new…of getting a little bit better and a tad bit more confident and notably stronger every single day. I covered the idea of learning new information a few weeks ago in a post called “Girl Meets Cheese,” but I think it’s worthwhile to think about learning new skills too. When was the last time you learned how to DO something new? Something totally brand new — like walking or talking or swimming or playing the guitar or riding a unicycle? As we get older, it feels like our opportunities to learn how to do new things diminish; but in reality, the only things that diminish are our willingness to fail and our perceived ability to learn new things and our bandwidth to make time for them. The new things can be small — like how to bake bread with quinoa flour (something I’m going to try to learn this weekend), or big — like how to code (which I’d love to learn). And the little things matter just as much as the big things…I’d even dare to say they might help keep us young.
When I think about the things I’d like to learn how to do, here’s a quick and rough laundry list:
- Learn to code
- Learn to speak conversational French
- Learn to paint with acrylics
- Learn to skateboard
- Learn to ride a tandem bicycle
- Learn to swim the butterfly
- Learn to do the whole ashtanga primary series by memory
- Learn to coach other people
- Learn to kitesurf
- Learn to bake bread with quinoa flour (never hurts to put something on the list that you are likely to be able to check off soon!)
What’s on your bucket list to learn in the future? And what’s the last thing you’re proud you DID learn?
P.S. If you read this post in hopes of getting a swim workout to try, here’s one I posted a few months ago!