It’s a well-worn adage that ‘You’re never too old to learn’. The fact that I decided to retire in my mid-50s makes me an odd bird in the eyes of many. But, it also gives me a chance to test out the adage while I have a good few of my faculties still working reasonably well. So, I had a crack at relearning the piano when I chanced on living in a rented house that had one: fun to try to get fingers nimble and possibly a good way to ward off some arthritis. I slacked off when my little daughter decided to take up the violin, and switched my attention to that. I’d had lessons on both when I was a child but put more energy into other things. But, I have gone back to the piano, and it’s been fun have the second grader start piano, and now we can tinkle ivories together or offer to sing while one or other or both of us play. I try to pass on to her what I learned from not putting my energy into practice–practice, practice, practice, and make it a daily habit.
My other piece of fun learning has come from a strange source. I love language challenges. As someone who used to do crosswords a lot, words and word- and letter- combinations are part of an arsenal for solving what many find hard to crack. New words and those friends of mine who are wordsmiths have come into focus recently as points of inspiration and mirth. But, the joy of discovery with new words is that they can come from many sources.
Today, in the space of an hour, I learnt a few new ones, through my contact with traders on Twitter. First, came ‘dothraki‘. Next came australopithecus. What possessed the people to come up with those terms? It’s quite something to hear a word that is not common, but I have not come across two totally new words in such a short time for as long as I can remember. My memory is still very good, in case you want to titter.
Now, am I pushing the boundaries a little far by taking up karate? Again, this was partly inspired by the fact that the little one is doing classes, but largely because it make good sense to do a more vigorous bit of exercise than walking in the woods and looking for eye-catching normalness to photograph, by the fact that the classes are a five-minute walk away; and I can go to as many classes as I like for the same monthly fee. Even an economist can figure out the good sense of that. But, the attempt to try kick boxing may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back . I tried the first session last Saturday: being new did not get me any special treatment, and I had my joints and muscles worked hard for an hour. I’m not ashamed to say that I felt the effects for the rest of Saturday, and needed a long walk with my first-born daughter on Sunday to feel that my body had a chance of surviving the week. By Monday, the aches were just easing. I went for a second session yesterday, and had the pleasure of being the instructor’s only victim. “Do you mind doing a little extra?” he asked me after we’d been punching and kicking and stretching and huffing and puffing and listening to high-energy hip-hop for an hour. “No problem,” came a reply from a voice that I did not fully recognize. Fortunately, I could see in the mirror that my lips were moving, so realised that it was me responding.
Now, a man offered me the chance to try golf at some free, no-obligation clinics. I’ve never been really attracted by playing golf–not enough activity, I always thought. But, when it might have been a good time to try–when I was posted in west Africa and thinking that other things might not be possible–I lived in one of the few countries that has no golf courses! So, I learned tennis, instead. Now, fate has offered me another chance. I won’t delude myself with thoughts of being like Tiger Woods–in any way other than having a very good-looking wife and being on the Mitt Romney path to millionairedom . But, who knows? Augusta? Carnoustie? I love travel. Could be reason enough to try to master this thing, too.