There is a figure of speech that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I believe that is simply not true. What matters is the will to try something new and not give up until one has learned it.
Unfortunately, when I was young, I failed to learn the ten-finger system. At school it was not on the curriculum and as at the time one usually wrote by hand, it was of no relevance to me. Therefore I write using the „searching eagle“ system. It is slow, even if in the meantime I am quite fast. Now I have told myself that I want to learn the ten-finger system within the next 6 months. That is now simply sweated labour. Every day I sit in front of my PC and type endless rows of letters. The teacher: my PC. I am pleased when I make only a few mistakes, I am frustrated when it doesn’t really work, but I am improving from day to day. My PC keeps pitiless statistics of all of my mistakes, the speed and the times of all my exercises. It is a strict teacher, merciless. It demands hard work, perseverance and time. I’m confident that it will be successful.
Water skiing is quite different. I also intend to learn that. But stupidly I also looked for an instruction manual in the internet and landed on films with all sorts of water skiing accidents. That almost deprived me of all my courage. The thought of my being somehow catapulted through the air, flying without any control, and smashing against a hard object, had a very demotivating effect.
Fear stuck fast in my mind and ousted my previous anticipation. In this way one learns nothing. I really had to get a grip of myself. The result is worthwhile. No, I’m not a natural talent, who could start from the water on the first attempt. It needed a few attempts and a good instructor to iron out my mistakes. But the result pours out a sea of happiness hormones in my body. I play with the waves, enjoy the speed. It is a very liberating feeling, I cannot but laugh for joy. How long you can do it is limited by the strength of one’s own arms. Apart from the fact that these sports are expensive, the following day I also pay with my aching muscles. That is simply part of it and is worthwhile.
For me the last «first time» this summer was the competition in throwing the Unspunnenstein. For the women the projectile weighs more than 7 kilos, is light-coloured and elongated. It sits well in the hand. With every attempt I improved slightly, even if only by centimetres. Before the competition I was overcome by extreme nervousness, like examination fever that I hadn’t experienced for years. With three valid attempts I reached 4.16m. For me not bad, but of course far short of the podium. The best woman threw far over 6 metres. But it made a lot of fun.
Summarising, I can say that a new challenge can make a lot of fun, can be frustrating and can drive one to despair. But it is more our own head that holds us back from trying something new and then not giving up learning. Because in principle one is never too old to learn.
Imagesource: pixelio.de / Tobias Zeller