I’ll admit it: I am a dopamine junkie. If I feel a little bit blue, a tad unsure of myself, a hint of anxiety, my usual response is to try something new, hoping for that rush I get from a novel endeavor.
When my youngest son left the nest and I was feeling lost, I tried running races for the first time. That was 17 years ago and still one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend morning. Winner!
Today I thought I would write about three activities I tried that were slightly less noteworthy. These are the activities that wound up on the discard pile.
When I was a little girl, I used to love to watch my mother and sister knit. They were both accomplished knitters, turning out colorful shawls, blankets, and gorgeous sweaters.
I pestered my mother until she finally agreed to teach me. She gave me some scraps of her yarn and told me we would make a scarf.
I loved the idea. I pictured a long, rainbow-hued rectangle I could proudly wrap around my neck to keep me warm in the winter.
What I produced was a stubby, rainbow-hued rhombus (I must have dropped some stitches) I wouldn’t have worn on a bet.
I did persevere and improved slightly. The height of my knitting career came when I made a pale blue cap and baby sweater for my oldest son before he was born. Unfortunately, it turned out to be very small and he was an eight-pound baby, so he wore it exactly once.
When my youngest son left home many years later, in addition to racing, I thought I might revive my fondness for knitting.
I bought a pattern book and some beautiful yarn. I began working on the front of a sweater.
Knitting was a lot slower than I remembered. If you like immediate gratification, knitting is not the hobby for you.
I knit about six inches of the front of the sweater and placed the knitting in a beautiful wooden bowl my oldest son brought home from his time in the Peace Corps in Zambia.
It gathered dust there for years, a prominent reminder of my lack of dedication.
I was bereft after my mother died. Mom suffered a stroke three years before she passed, which resulted in her living in an assisted care facility. I used to visit her every night, helping her shower and getting her into bed. After her death, I felt aimless, lost.
An ad at our local rec center for scuba diving lessons in the deep end of the pool seemed like something exciting to try.
I pictured my husband and me swimming in coral reefs among colorful fish and delicate sea anemones. My oldest and youngest sons have their scuba licenses. I thought maybe we could all dive together.
As it turns out, scuba diving lessons in a pool are not all that much fun.
Instead of viewing colorful fish and sea turtles, you get to see the gross stuff (like balls of hair and Band-aids) that accumulate at the deep end of the pool.
Most of the lessons consist of learning what to do in case something goes wrong (duh!). You also need to be able to calculate how many minutes your air supply will last, not an easy task.
We passed all the checkpoints along the way during our ten-week course and our written test too. The only thing that stood between us and our certification was the open water dive.
Unfortunately, the open water dive was scheduled to take place not in the clear, warm waters of a tropical beach, but in a murky, cold quarry. In March. In Pennsylvania.
We decided to wait until summertime to take our final test.
We took the classes 12 years ago but never got our final certification.
As far back as I can remember, my husband played golf. Even when we were dating, he went golfing with his buddies from school.
Our youngest two sons caught his enthusiasm for the sport and both played on our high school golf team.
When the kids were younger, the days when Bill took the boys golfing meant at least four hours of uninterrupted alone-time for me. I could go running, get chores done around the house, sit on the deck with a book, or whatever I pleased. Downtime was a valuable commodity in those days.
As a result, I never learned to play. Running was my thing.
As our boys got older, Bill began to run with me. At first, just three or five miles at a time, but eventually, he trained for and ran some full marathons and even a 50K.
“I should learn to golf,” I thought. He learned to love my hobby, I should reciprocate.
I took golf lessons.
I loved my golf instructor. She was patient, smart, and knew how to explain the “how-to“s of golf. I signed up for a series of six lessons over six weeks.
After the classes were over, Bill and I went to a local par-three course to play.
After five holes, I was exhausted. I wanted to go home and take a nap.
“You run marathons!” Bill protested. “How can five holes of golf make you so tired?”
It just did.
The only time I actually played 18 holes on a full-sized course was with my sister and brother-in-law at their club. Both are excellent golfers. After what seemed like 12 hours of golfing, frazzled and limp, I asked my sister which hole we were playing.
“Six,” she replied.
I still play occasionally in scramble tournaments but I would never presume to call myself a golfer.
It was another activity that wound up on the discard pile.
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