Say Cheese

Making a List

Woe to the unwary reader, as I am fighting a cold and probably not completely coherent. Common sense would tell you that I should not be attempting to write anything, as my ability to focus is severely impaired. Alas, I need to get some thoughts down, so if you don't want to read the equivalent of me thinking out-loud, please go elsewhere.

So, I've written a little bit and talked at length with others about the frustration I feel in my life. I've also written and talked at length about how, over the next year, I am going to make changes. I'm going to challenge myself. I'm going to find my mission or at least find some adventure. Your formative years don't end when you turn 25 do they? Or maybe they do and this is some quarter life (or maybe mid life...who says I'll live past 50) crisis? Am I being irrational? Am I being sensible at all?

I'm now making a list of things I said I'd never do, but now realize I had said I'd never do them for what are clearly irrational reasons. I'm not worried much about these first few, but later items make me worry a bit.

1) Learn to play the harmonica. I know how to play the drums, but I don't have three grand to spend on an electric set that I could play in my apartment, so I'd like to try another instrument. I've always loved the sound of the harmonica and it would be neat, to say the least, to play the blues. I also never thought I could learn an instrument that involved notes (yeah, there's my rational thinking for you). That is all the more reason I need to attempt to learn that instrument, if you ask me.

2) Get over my dancing phobia. I hate dancing. There are few things in life that I hate more than dancing. I'd probably put dancing right above vomiting as far as enjoyable activities go. Just thinking about being out on a dance floor fills me with anxiety and creates a series of knots in my back. I sweat a bit. I start twitching like Woody Allen.

However, I need to change that. My anxiety comes from feeling that I look like a dork when I'm dancing. However, I'm not an uncoordinated guy by any means. I played almost every sport a kid could play while growing up and I was almost always halfway competent. As a drummer, I developed a modicum of rhythm. I also love music, and can't help myself but move some part of my body when I hear a good beat. I can dance. I know I can, but I am still terrified of the prospect of being out on a dance floor.

So what am I going to do? Well, my buddy, Doug, thinks I could learn to Salsa dance. Stop laughing. Oh come on now, it's not that funny. Okay, now you are just being rude. Now wipe your eyes and keep reading.

As I was saying, he knows a club that gives free lessons and that has friendly teachers. I think he's crazy but also know that I should not turn down this opportunity. What do I have to lose, right? Time? Well, better wasting it trying to dance than here whining about my dissatisfaction with life, the universe and everything. Right?

3) Learn a foreign language. It's a crime that I never learned one while growing up. Yeah, I took four years of Latin in High School and oh, boy, hasn't that been useful. I usually joke that I could never learn another language because I can barely handle English (as is apparent by my writing, I'm sure). However, I need to learn another language simply because I think I can't.

Right now, I'm looking at three possibilities. A romance language of some sort would be the most useful, by far. However, I want something different. Something bizarre compared to everything I've ever learned or experienced. So, me, the linguistically challenged, am now looking at taking a class in either Russian or Arabic in January. Am I crazy? Probably. But the idea of learning something so new, so different, from anything I've ever experienced just gets me REALLY excited. Will I be able to use either of those languages in everyday life? You never know.

4) Travel! Not just travel somewhere different, but travel somewhere I never thought I'd be able to go (for a whole host of reasons: too far away, I don't speak the language, I don't know anything about the culture, etc) and stay there for at least 2 weeks, if not a month. I need to be somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere even a little intimidating. I need the adventure and I need to be out of my element.

Right now, my leading candidates for a trip are Russia/Lithuania or West Africa (ie. Morocco, Senegal, etc). I'll probably need to make a decision about that sometime soon, and take the trip sometime between March and June of next year (Since language classes will be from January to March). I know that a trip like that would probably cost a fair amount of money, but that's why I've saved so much. I need a spiritual swift kick to head...a new place might give me one. I can hope, right?

Okay the next one is the big one. I don't know if I can/should/would do it, but I'm going to start talking about it in order to see how I feel.

5) Volunteer for an international organization. Specifically, I'm thinking about joining one of the groups that do IT work for developing nations, like Geek Corps or the VSO.

How weird would that be? How exciting would that be? It's hard for me to even imagine being that cut off from friends and family and all that I find safe and familiar. There is a part of me though, as I've already said many times, that is looking for everything that is not safe and familiar. I need to expand my horizons and I feel like I have to do it now, otherwise I'll be back in Boston, back to where it's safe, and I'll never see adventure, I'll never grow, I'll never expand, I'll never accomplish anything. Sure, that might be just as irrational as the thoughts that said I could never live in a place like Mali, but at least these are new thoughts, exciting thoughts, so they appeal to me. Not to mention that I like the idea of teaching willing, eager people about the technology I love so much. Sure, it wouldn't be all candy and sunshine, but I'm not looking for that. If I were, I'd take a trip to the Caribbean, come back with a tan and be happy with it.

So really, it's #5 that has my head spinning a bit. Could I do it? Should I? Would I be throwing my life away? Would I come back and never find a good job or find that everything in my life has changed for the worse? Or maybe I'd find my mission. Maybe I'd find my purpose. I don't know. All I know is that this next year is more important to me than any other in my life. I don't remember the last time I felt this alive or this energized.

I have a lot of thinking to do, but I also have a lot to get done. Learning an instrument, a language and a dancing style will take some time and effort, but I'm convinced I'll be better off in the long run. Traveling is a no-brainer, I think. When is the only major issue I'll have to deal with. So that just leaves the volunteering. Maybe I should talk to someone about it...what do you think?

Posted by Mr. Eff on 10/09/2003

For the moment...

Book: Deep Blues, by Robert Palmer

CD: Brothers, by The Black Keys

Song: "Oh My God," by Ida Maria

Link: Shut Up & Sit Down

Ramble: Just An Idea