Every year, at least once a year, I learn or try something new. I think embracing new experiences and learning new skills is important for personal growth, and it keeps life interesting and me sane. Sometimes the new thing is something I have wanted to do for a while but never gotten around to, like SCUBA diving (my graduation present to myself last year when I finished my Master’s degree) or skydiving (circa 2009), and sometimes it is something that had never even crossed my mind but the opportunity presents itself and I just have to take it. I’m one of those people who really doesn’t like being bad at things, and I’ve been tempted to say no to trying new things because of fear of failure. Fortunately, I usually convince myself not to be a wimp, give whatever new thing it is a try, and always have a good time, even if maybe I’m not the best at it. Turns out you don’t have to be good at everything, but if you have a good attitude about it and are able to laugh at yourself a little, trying something you’ve never done before will most likely result in you having a good time regardless of your ability.
This year was full of firsts for me! I went ice climbing on New Year’s day for the first time and led my first sport and trad rock climbing routes, tackled my first high altitude glaciers while mountaineering in Ecuador, traveled alone to Nepal, drove stick shift for the first time, shot my first gun, went for a ride in a snowcat, collaborated on my first documentary film, visited many new areas of New Hampshire, and the list goes on. While I’m not particularly good at trap shooting, still frequently stall when getting into first gear on a standard vehicle, and haven’t yet started editing the film, I enjoyed each of those experiences greatly. As 2013 comes to a close I can look back on the year and say it was a good one, and a lot of that has to do with my willingness to venture out of my comfort zone, go to new places, meet new people, and try new things.
Today the days gradually start growing longer again. It’s not the official new year yet and we still have one of the year’s biggest holidays to celebrate, but with the recent passing of the winter solstice I think now is a good time to remember to seek out life’s adventures, be they big or small. Life is short and fleeting and beautiful, and we better get to experience its wonder when we take advantage of the chances we are given to dabble in parts of it we have never been exposed to before, to step beyond our current perspectives and abilities, and embrace the opportunities that come our way. Enjoy the last bit of this year and resolve to make the next one different, maybe not with a big resolution but just in a small way – try something you have never done before. Go see a Broadway play. Hike to the top of that mountain. Try photographing night scenes. Do a polar bear plunge. Run a marathon. Whatever it is, find something new and do it. You’ll be glad you did.