I like learning new things. When I was a kid my family was convinced I was going to be a mechanic when I grew up. Every time I got a new toy the first thing I would do with it was take it apart. It drove me nuts not to know how things worked. I took everything I could apart. I never bothered to put them back together, because what was the value of a toy once you knew how it worked? If I wanted to play pretend with things, I got more mileage out of the variously shaped parts lying around. It seemed better than restricting myself to the limited imagination of the toy maker. Sticks were the best toys. They could be anything from swords to guns to spaceships to boats and cars and robots and a million other things. A toy car was a toy car. Boring.
I kept this habit as I grew up, and still do. I’m only interested in things that I haven’t taken apart and figured out yet. I learned to love computers because taking them apart revealed nothing about the mystery of programming. The complexity of interactions built up from simple parts and commands got me started on learning about structure more than construction. Which is probably why guitar became the second thing I learned to love.
Music is another structure built into complexity from interactions. Frustrating as hell for me. I can learn to make nice sounds and string them together, and will admit to a tiny bit of technical skill, but I’m still left with feeling like I don’t quite get it.
Right about the same time I discovered those two, I got my first martial arts lessons. That, I understood right away. I understood that every single time I sparred with another person, I was going to be presented with a new structure to take apart. The best toy was people! They were a puzzle that never stopped changing. I could figure out what one person did by habit, and learn to break it, and then they would learn something new and we could start all over again. When my skill level improved, I could play with new tools for breaking structures. Total joy. A happy brain for me.
Now that I am an adult, and life is having it’s way with me, I no longer have the chance to train in martial arts all the time. It doesn’t matter so much now. I’ve learned about new complexities. Social interactions! Politics, sexuality, racism, sexism, profiling, snobbery and the other horrible things people do to themselves and others in daily life. Definitely a toy to break there. And the good things…watching people do things they are good at. I’ve really hit a period of my life where everyone I know seems to be an artist of some kind.
I’m fascinated by how they work. The process of working from an impulse in the brain to presenting an actual object to others is just incredible. I can’t stand to not know how it works. I see people making jewelry, I have to try it for myself so I can better appreciate what they do. I love playing with my new camera and trying to take really good photos, so that I can better understand the artistry of my friends. Dancing, acting, armouring, weaving, spinning and all the other little things that take place around me. I try them all so I can appreciate them more.
I used to think I was looking for my “thing” in life. I wanted to be one of those people that was a something. A lawyer, a doctor, a pilot, a photographer. I felt like I had no focus or goal in life, and that I was missing out. So some of my motivation used to be to try new things to see if they were the thing for me, but I gave that up years ago. It’s better to just enjoy the variety of life without trying to give it meaning.
Besides, as I learned a while ago, what you are meant to do in life, is what you do most in life. And what I do most is this right here.
Thanks for reading.