This post was originally published on the now-retired Make & Meaning blog on December 11th, 2009.
Paul recently wrote about his desire to drop-kick commenters who say â€œGreat tutorial! I could never do that.â€ The same kind of self-deprecating denial often follows phrases like, â€œGreat photo!â€ â€œGreat project!â€ and â€œGreat post!â€ Like Paul, Iâ€™ve spent many an hour fantasizing about going all Buffy on these commentersâ€™ heads.
In all honesty, peopleâ€™s tendency to respond to an inspiring event, object or article by immediately concluding they could never do such a thing is one of the odd phenomena that keep me working in this field. I simply love to kick people in their collective patooty. Paul pretty much summed up all the reasons why we feel this way.
Thereâ€™s a little bit of a difference between us, though, and itâ€™s one that makes me smile â€“ peopleâ€™s different ways of getting to the same place can just be so interesting.
Paul wrote this at the end of his post:
â€œOne of my favorite bloggers, Hugh MacLeod put up a great illustration on his blog the other day. It was a drawing of a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan â€˜die tryingâ€™. In two words, this perfectly encapsulates the philosophy of my life.â€
The summer I turned twenty-one I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports, an outdoors store. I wasnâ€™t really into â€œthe outdoorsâ€ but working there sure beat folding jeans or pushing smelly lotion on teenagers. Plus, most of my coworkers really were into the outdoors and I learned a lot from them. They were fun to spend the day with, wondering aloud if the youth pastor sales guy would sell a kayak during our shift.
One day the assistant manager and one of the guys decided they were going to go rock climbing at a world-famous climbing site a few hours away and they invited me to go with them. Iâ€™d been rock climbing a whopping once, and that was in a gymnasium. I didnâ€™t have shoes or gear, but they said they didnâ€™t care. I was very, very intimidated by all this. Iâ€™m usually very uncomfortable not knowing anything about what Iâ€™m supposed to do in a situation. And Iâ€™m a klutz. And I was awkward around cute guys (these were good-looking dudes). I really, really wanted to find an excuse for why I couldnâ€™t go.
I donâ€™t know what was up with me that summer; maybe over those two months I did some serious growing up. One day I just stopped wearing a watch â€“ that was a big, freeing, wonderful change. Another change was that, to my great surprise, I said, â€œSure, Iâ€™ll go rock climbing with you at the Gunks. Iâ€™ll meet you at the store at seven tomorrow morning.â€
I donâ€™t actually remember if I climbed. I think I tried a bit, but without good shoes it was sort of a bust. I have other vivid memories from that day, though. The weather was stunning. There was a crazy friendly black lab named Sara. And I remember sitting between the two guys in the cab of the assistant managerâ€™s pickup truck, my hair flying around from the wind rushing through the open windows, and feeling happy and free. No anxieties, no self-consciousness, no worries. I didnâ€™t care where we were or where we were going. I had said yes. They kept asking me what I wanted and I kept saying whatever. It was the first time in my life I was told I was laid back.
My own major life philosophy came out of that day. Itâ€™s not that Iâ€™ll die trying â€“ itâ€™s that Iâ€™ll try anything once. I donâ€™t feel any pressure anymore to be good at something Iâ€™ve never done, or even to enjoy doing it. But save for a few things Iâ€™m especially uncomfortable with*, my answer is usually, “sure, why not?”
And Iâ€™ve never, ever regretted it.
And seriously? With making stuff? Whatâ€™s the consequence? Certainly not a broken head or a busted ankle.
(* Most of the things Iâ€™m especially uncomfortable with are those for which I find the actual risk of death unreasonable or unwarranted.)
Unfortunately, all comments were lost when Make & Meaning was taken down. Don’t hesitate to repeat yourself here, or to join in on the new conversation!
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