I did it. I hurled a pink handled axe in a metal cage and occasionally hit a spray painted target for an hour. I am no Paul Bunyan, but I did better than I did with the bowling so there’s that.
It was fun… and I got kind of sweaty… and my arm got sore… and that glass of wine when John and I got home felt earned, like I wielded those axes to chop wood for a needed fire or something…
The thud when the blade connects with the gigantic wood stump is really very satisfying – I don’t know quite how to describe it except to say that it feels like the axe drops into the wood somehow rather than just sticking into it.
We also got to throw these medieval, Game of Thrones looking knives, which for some reason felt even more dangerous and badass than the axes. There was this tiny red-handled blade tucked into the knife holder that was practically beguiling. I’m not a knife person, but whoa nelly. Even though I didn’t manage to get that baby to stick into the target – I am not going to lie – I felt like someone was going to slink around the corner, give me a sly nod I immediately understood and recruit me for Charlie’s Angels at any. hot. second.
I am unreasonably competitive. I say unreasonably because I am not particularly athletic and I really have no business being a diva when it comes to anything in the athleticism family.
Yet as soon as there are stakes I get tunnel vision and I want to win.
While it can be funny sometimes (I have been known to go too far with trash talk in BOARD GAMES for heaven’s sake and I don’t even LIKE board games), I think my competitiveness has kept me from trying things.
As in, if I’m not going to win, why try?
I came across this quote attributed to Kurt Vonnegut* and I am now rethinking all this winning stuff.
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.
I have read this to my kids and I have read this to John and I am struck by how beautifully this falls into a year (or a lifetime) of trying new things.
I talk to my kids about not worrying about doing something well all the time. Sometimes (enough of the time) the energy an idea needs is to just get a bad version out.
Don’t worry about writing the best story, just write a bad one. Never mind drawing the best tiger, draw some terrible ones first.
And I have to admit to myself that I don’t take always my own advice.
I am happy to report that I am not very good at axe throwing. I am even worse at bowling (oh my god I am really bad at bowling, so bad…).
*I don’t know if he actually said this… still inspiring though. *Someone* said something heartwarming…
I am conducting an experiment: I challenge myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/interesting/novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be fun too…