May 2012

Let go of old regrets

And let me know if you figure out how.

Though coughing and throwing up are generally keeping me up with a nasty spring cold, it’s those same old stale regrets pumping through my brain that are making it even harder to find sleep. It seems like anytime I am trying to rest, the thoughts that keep me up are either present worries—about bills and such, which aren’t good, either—or these stupid past regrets.

Most of the regrets that I have seem to center around things that I feel wronged by—that I should have stood up for myself against rather than meekly sat and taken whatever was doled out to me. There are other regrets, too—such as singing scary songs to my little sister when I was a child, taking my sisters to a wildly inappropriate film once, and sending my own daughter to preschool against my own bad feelings as a parent. But most of them are of the first kind.

Learn to Draw

Everyone knows how to draw. Little kids love to draw, it's one of their favorite pastimes. Somewhere along the way we lose that love.
This is one of those things I hear over and over again: "Someday I really want to learn how to draw." But "someday" may never come, so why not start today?
 
People often wonder, where do I begin learning how to draw? You begin at the simplest point: grab the nearest drawing implement (pen or pencil) and the nearest paper (copy paper works great!). Next, choose an object near to hand (your computer mouse, a coffee cup, an apple) and really look at it. Pretend you're an alien, and this is the first time you've seen one of those. What shape is it, really?

On the List: Urban Exploration

"When you do this, you’re going to need the right equipment to ensure that you come out without too much damage to your person."

Of a similar bent as cave exploration, the more modern hobby of urban exploration is just as risky, in its own way, but does not present the extensive need for equipment that delving beneath the Earth does.  The caves that urban explorers traverse are those made by man as opposed to nature.  The often forgotten areas of the city are their destinations, including such places as old sewer systems, dilapidated industrial buildings and abandoned commercial and residential structures.  This hobby is not strictly legal and can even be considered a serious trespassing offense when one’s exploration target is say, the old Roman sewer system below the city of Rome.  Most of these places are off-limits and owned by some party or another and to be caught can land you some jail time.  So, while I cannot officially endorse that people give this hobby a try, I’d say that I, personally, am going to take some time out of my remaining years to pursue it myself.

On the List: The Trans-Siberian Railway

 

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest train ride in the world, covering nearly 6000 miles from Moscow, across the Siberian wasteland, and on to Vladivostok.  It is a travel experience that everyone should take part in at least once in their lives, seeing the grandeur of the largest country in the world from the window of a train.  Though the ride is long and you may find your backside aching after so much time sitting down, the spectacular views would be well-worth the discomfort.

Being on this railroad also means rubbing elbows with many Russian natives who happen to be using the train for more practical purposes.  There is no better way to know the real face of a country’s people than interacting with them on a daily basis in an environment where there is little to do but interact.  This journey is one that can be both social and introspective at the same time and give you some unique insights.

On the list: Cave Exploration

There are places beneath the earth that hold some of the most amazing wonders in the world, but most people will never witness with these wonders with their own eyes.  Caves are everywhere below our feet, waiting to be explored.  It’s easy enough to find a cave somewhere nearby wherever you happen to live that gives tours, but the only way to truly experience the magnificence of a cave is to go exploring.

Do A Birding "Big Year"

For those who dedicate a year to birding, it's literally an adventure that is a lifetime in the making
Do you enjoy bird-watching? (Enough to refer to it as "birding" instead, as the Serious Birders do?) Then some year you owe it to yourself to take the year off and travel the world!
 
You are no doubt familiar with the concept of doing a "Big Year" if you have either read Mark Obmascik's The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession or seen the movie "The Big Year" starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin which was adapted from it. Although the book and the movie follow the sport of competitive birding, you don't have to compete against the world record. In fact, many people who choose to do a "Big Year" don't have a specific goal in mind, beyond squeezing as much traveling and birding out of a year as they can possibly muster.