Old Dog. New Tricks.
Now 31 isn’t old. I think I thought it was when I was 15. Now here, at 31, I realize this is the good stuff. You have confidence. You have figured out your weird ticks and no longer think them weird but find them identifying pieces of yourself. You no longer fear the gray hairs but realize they are a sign of living. Sure my body has softened in places I hoped it wouldn’t and I no longer ever do my hair beyond pulling into a messy bun but I have confidence my 21-year-old body never thought it would have. 31 is pretty great already at just under a month in. I wouldn’t say I am an old dog, but I will say, there are ways I have noticed I have settled into life. The challenges I accept are different and though I have deep desires to learn, I do it with the stubbornness of someone much older than me. I have to do it in the way I know how or at least that is what I tell myself.
I noticed this in myself in the last year and like a proper 30 something, I accepted it and moved on for a bit. Then this year as I drew closer to 31 I made the decision to challenge myself. I decided it was time to learn some new tricks and realize it won’t come easy to me and just how good that is for my well being.
There was a time in my life that starting something I wasn’t great at right away was really hard. It felt demoralizing and I found it hard to laugh at myself. I tried knitting mittens and they are still on the needles because I didn’t get it the first time around. I tried a recipe and called it quits when I missed a step and ruined it. I fought a new way of organizing my work because I didn’t want to put in the work. Sound familiar? When I unpacked our house and found those half done mittens from a few years ago, I realized I had lost that part of myself that was okay at being bad at something and the importance of learning to peck away at something with the goal to simply become better and not be the best.
So, we picked up something new. Mike and I got Cross Country Skis this year. It was a new way to explore where we live right out our front door, but I won’t lie it is a new trick for both of us. The first day I strapped them on I thought, “Oh I will be great at this, I have been downhill skiing since I was 3.” I had visions of being some Olympic level champion on them right out the gate. Let me tell you within the first 30 minutes I ran into a bush and my ego was set at the proper place right then and there.
Then the other day, Mike and I decided to go out together in the fresh snow while Hayes was at Daycare. We both fell a few dozen times. We laughed at each other as we each bit it and we also found new grooves. We challenged each other to take a hill and in those 30 minutes we both got a great workout in and took home some good belly laughs.
I think as we age it becomes harder to find the desire to learn new things because, well, we have been really good at the old ones. As children everything is new. We need to learn everything. We choose the things we work at to become great at, but as we age we slowly lose both the opportunity to play like this and the desire to make it a priority to learn new things. I am no different and have the same story. I will say I am not a pro at Cross Country skiing and it will probably take time to get good at it. I will humbly admit I fall A LOT and it is not downhill skiing as I thought. Honestly, though, I am glad it isn’t what I thought or that I am great at it right out the gate. The challenge is a reminder of how important it is to work at things no matter our age. I have learned in just this last week of going every day, that even having muscles sore I didn’t know I had is a process of learning that our bodies and mind need.
So though I am not old I would say it is easy to become an old dog and refuse new tricks whether we are aware of it or not. I am challenging myself this year to choose new tricks each season. To make them new routines and if at the end of the season I don’t love them I can let them go then, but till then it is a good practice to challenge my mind, body, and soul to something new and be reminded of the fun in it and most importantly not taking yourself too seriously.
Currently, I love Cross Country skiing and the chance it gives us to see our world around us while getting sweaty. Maybe soon I will pick up that knitting project again and start over or maybe I will try that recipe again knowing the imperfections show the lessons learned and that our old dog wisdom can learn new tricks.