When was the last time you did something for the first time? As we age, our “first-times” can easily become distant memories instead of items on our to-do or bucket lists. As years go by it’s easy to count the reasons why we’re NOT trying new things: too old, too busy caretaking to try, too tired, not enough money, or just not something I’m good at.
The trouble is, we’re wired to keep on growing and to evolving, and transitions in life are a great time to take stock of any ‘somedays’ we still have. You know, like ‘Someday I’ll go on that trip to the states I’ve never seen, someday I’ll start walking every day, someday I’ll take a painting class, someday I’ll learn another language.’ Turns out, someday isn’t a day of the week.
If we’re paying attention, we can even turn the obstacles that life gives us into opportunities to try something new. Anna Mary Robertson Moses could no longer do needlework as she aged, so she picked up a paintbrush instead. Totally untrained, she began to paint her memories of farm life at the age of 77 and painted nearly every day until her death at the age of 101. She started selling her paintings for $2 or $3 depending on the size. In 1939, an art collector discovered her primitive but powerful paintings in a drugstore window and before long she was an internationally famous folk artist known as Grandma Moses.
What new things could you try? We won’t all be famous artists, but would you like to learn to make pottery? Whatever you choose doesn’t have to be monumental like a big hike, or difficult, like learning Chinese. It could be trying a new restaurant in a nearby town, making a new friend or going to a dance class. Something that helps us get out of our comfort zones every so often and ideally connects us with others. Our ancestors survived by banding together. We’re all human and can annoy each other easily, but when we practice forgiveness, have compassion, and give up the need to be right, life gets better. And trying new things with friends is fun – chances are you’ll end up laughing at each other.
Not sure about starting something new? As Henry Ford famously said, "Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” We have to manage our expectations, but we also have to expect the best we can believe. What if it were fun, what if it were easy, what if you enjoyed the experience?
We are each creative just by the mere fact of being alive. What will you create today? The same day you experienced yesterday? Or maybe a new one in which you try something for the first time – a new food, a new game, or a new experience. It’s time to lean into life, to savor every moment and cherish every breath. Take a chance to do something new today – your brain and your spirit will thank you for it.