Doing Things Defines You – Stretch Yourself 

 July 13, 2021

By  Oak Norton

Do Something Different

The author Kurt Vonnegut once wrote:

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of ‘getting to know you,’ questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject?

And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, ‘‘Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”

And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could ‘Win’ at them.”

You don’t have to be a pro at something to enjoy doing it. Your combination of talents, skills, and experiences makes you unique and gives meaning to your life. The more you try, the more you find meaning between that activity and other things in your life. It’s like a spider web where the more strands you have between items on the rim, the more filled in the web becomes so you can catch the fly.

If you don’t like spiders, think of a bike tire with all its spokes. You won’t want just a couple spokes holding your bike rim steady. You want a bunch. Life is like going from your center to the rim of your experiences to attach a new spoke. The more spokes you add, the smoother the ride.

Discuss: The things you learn or do make you unique. What else do you want to try that will expand your experiences? Name at least 2, then make a plan to do at least 1 of them.


(Image by artursz @ 123rf.com)

Oak Norton

Father of 5 children, husband to 1 amazingly patient woman, entrepreneur, and education advocate.

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