Old mind, new things

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November 24, 2011 by agooddaytoyou

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I love setting myself goals at the beginning of each year. I don’t always achieve them all (sometimes I only manage one. Sometimes none). But when I do tick something off the list, I feel intensely proud.

And two years ago, I ticked a big one. I learned to ride a bike, at the tender and inflexible and frightened-to-get-hurt age of of 27. In fact, almost all the gooddaytoyou-ers were the ones who taught me. Monday took me to the New Farm Park early one Saturday morning and, like an attentive father, ran beside me holding the back of the bike until I could figure out how to balance on the stupid thing. When he finally let go and I realised I was doing it alone, I screamed and whooped like a little girl, as if I were seven rather than two decades older. Tuesday was the one who took me to the University of Queensland carpark and rode next to me, round and round the same circuit, teaching me how to use the brakes, how to take corners and control my steering. Wednesday and Sunday slowed down to encourage me whenever we went for group bike rides (aren’t we adorable?) and, after a nasty fall late last year, Friday is the one helping me get back on a bike and making me excited about riding again.

Thinking back over that time, learning to do something at such a late stage in life (later than most people anyway) reminds me just how wonderful, scary, exciting, and gratifying it is to achieve this sort of goal at such a “mature age”. And I have to hold on to the joy and pride I felt, because I am THIS CLOSE to giving up on my latest “learn something new” tick box.

I’m trying to teach myself to sew at the moment but the instructions in simple step-by-step manuals or even on watch-and-learn YouTube videos won’t click. I can just about handle simple hand sewing because it’s your normal straight line in and out. But setting up my newly purchased sewing machine? Winding bobbins and following patterns? It’s like, at a certain point, my brain wants to put up its “No Vacancy” sign and call it a day. All the words and actions associated with sewing don’t feel natural to my mind or my muscle memory yet, and the doubt always lurks, telling me they never will. I feel the frustrations of childhood again, trying to puzzle out reading and seeing confusing squiggles in place of letters.

But hey, I did learn to read, frustrations aside. I am pretty good at it too, if I do say so myself. And as scary and embarrassing and sometimes painful as it was to learn to ride a bike, I did it (with a lot of help from my friends).

The most important part of the learning process was that I didn’t give up, as much as I wanted to and as easy as it might have been.

This is a fairly selfish post, a reminder to myself to persevere, even though it would be so easy to toss it all in and stick with what I know (television, wine, shopping for vintage clothing, the collected works of Austen, Parks & Recreation episodes, cats…hmmm, that’s pretty much it). But I want to learn this so badly, I want this wonderful skill to be mine. And I want to sew all the gooddaytoyou-ers some little matching bicycle outfits, so we can all look extra adorable the next time we go riding.

Too much? Ah, I’ll get there eventually.

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