Crossing Off the Learning List

Yesterday at work we got to attend a talk by Arianna Huffington of… well, yeah, you know where she’s from. At the moment she’s promoting her new book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” (HOLY INSANITY, sub-title!), which seems to essentially be about finding work/life balance. I have many thoughts about Ms. Huffington (one of which is she should PAY WRITERS), but it was a very interesting, thought-provoking talk. I’ll probably pick the book up from the library when it becomes available.

One of the points she brought up was “letting go” — of guilt, of grudges, of projects. The projects one stood out to me. For her 40th birthday, she took a “life inventory” and wrote down all the projects she had dreamed of completing, but realistically knew she wasn’t going to complete. “Become a really good skier.” “Become a really good cook.” She wrote all these projects down on one big list, and then threw the list away. She let the “side” projects go — which gave her more time and energy to focus on the projects that truly mattered.

I immediately thought of my “Learning List” I posted a while back. It’s a list I circle back to with guilt because I have done literally 0 things on it. Listening to Huffington talk, I realized — that’s stupid. Why am I feeling guilty about this list? I should re-evaluate. I decided to go back through and really focus on what’s important to me, and let go of the others.

The original items are italicized — the strike-outs are the items I’m nixing.

  • Pick up the flute again. Get good again. To be honest, this is probably one I SHOULD let go… but I can’t. I played the flute for 7 years, used to love it, want to love it again. But “get good again”? That may be unrealistic. I’ll just settle for “pick up the damn flute once in a while.”
  • Learn how to draw.  Nope. I’m sorry, aspiring artist in me, but this one ain’t happening. Learning to draw takes a lot of time and effort that could be spent on other things (COUGH COUGH WRITING).
  • Go get a tarot card reading. No wait I CAN STILL DO THIS ONE! Who’s going with me?
  • Learn how to drive stick shift. This just seems like a good life skillz. Ok — this IS a life skill. It’s something I actually need to learn. Damn it.
  • Re-learn how to play the guitar. As much as it pains me… I’m crossing this one off. I will never be a guitar virtuoso. It’s not in the tarot cards.
  • Learn how to write a strong, sharp short story. This one stays. It’s a specific skill in the profession I’ve chosen. RELEVANT LIFE SKILL.
  • Get re-certified in scuba diving. Sigh… no, probably not. Time, money, priorities. Again, I hate crossing this one off… but if I enjoy snorkeling more anyway, why not just stick with that?

And the one item I’m adding to the list?

  • Fly fishing. Huffington specifically mentioned fly fishing as a form of meditation, and that meditation is important, so HA FLY FISHING IT IS!

There. Re-prioritized.

So do I feel relieved, having “let go” of these things? Not yet. Mostly right now I feel kind of bummed out. But that’s reality, isn’t it? We can’t do it all — if only for the fact that as each day clicks by, that’s one less day to Get Shit Done. The Shit that really matters to you. And I’m going to focus on the ones that really matter to me.

4 thoughts on “Crossing Off the Learning List

  1. This is really good. I have a running list of things I’d like to do “someday,” and I recently had to go through and re-evaluate, and change some of them to more manageable things. I would love to be a piano virtuoso, but considering I’ve only taken about four piano lessons in my whole life I know realistically it’ll never happen, and that’s okay.

    1. Ha! That’s me with guitar. I took lessons ONE summer, and somehow still feel like I can become this person who just cracks open the guitar case at parties and starts sing-a-longs or something….

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