So if you try something new, and you don’t really like it — does that mean you made a mistake?
Back on topic: I was more than a little anxious about the karaoke thing. It wasn’t like a massive phobia or anything (although I did play up the “fear and loathing” aspect of it for entertainment/ fundraising purposes). It was just something I didn’t particularly want to do. But a lot of people said, “Oh, you’ll like it. Once you get over the nervousness, karaoke is big fun.” And I was open to the possibility that this might be the case… and while I was apprehensive, I was also prepared to enjoy myself.
As it turns out — yeah, not so much. I do actually like to sing, I have a reasonably okay singing voice, and I’m happy to sing in groups of friends. But I don’t like doing being the center of attention doing things that I’m not especially good at. Particularly when it’s in an unfamiliar situation. (And particularly not when it’s being put on YouTube.) The fact that my voice was shot from being at the conference all weekend didn’t help. Plus I’m generally not that crazy about hanging around in bars (don’t like crowds, don’t like noise, have complicated feelings about alcohol). So, yeah. Standing at the front of a room singing into a cheap microphone in a loud, crowded bar? As it turns out — not my cup of tea.
But, in a weird paradox, while I didn’t enjoy the actual experience of karaoke, I very much enjoyed the fact that I was doing it.
Largely, of course, because I was doing it for a good cause. (Go Camp Quest!) But also for its own sake. And while I think it’s unlikely that I’ll do it again (although I suppose that, if I’m going to follow my own advice about being willing to try anything twice, I ought to do it at least one more time), I’m not in the least bit sorry that I did it.
Because that’s the nature of adventure.
And I think that may be even more true the older you get.
I’m 49 now, and I’ve tried an awful lot of the things that have occurred to me might be interesting. And while there are still a whole lot of things left on that list, I’ve run through many of the ones on my A list, my “Oh, my God, that seems like it’s so me, I totally have to try that” list. I’m now much more on my B list; my “Oo, that’s intriguing, I’m not sure about that, but it seems like it has potential” list. And I’m getting into my C list as well, my “Hm, okay, that hadn’t really occurred to me before, but what the hell, you never know” list. And the B list and C list are, by their nature, somewhat less likely to pay off.
I love these things. I love the surprise of them, I love that they’re still fresh and exciting — and I love them for their own sake. And I would never have these things if I hadn’t been willing to try them and not like them.
And what’s more… the things I do like, the things I know I like, the things I don’t even have to think about whether I like, the things I’ve liked for years? Without new things in my life — whether crappy or awesome — the old favorites wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
If I only ever did things I know I like to do? I’d just be doing the same things over and over again. And at some point, I wouldn’t like doing them anymore. They’d get tedious. They’d feel like a prison, or a trap. But when I come back to something I know I like, after a stretch of trying new stuff — some of which worked out, some of which didn’t — the old favorites become a genuine comfort. A deep delight. Adventure doesn’t just bring new possibilities into my life. It sheds new light on the old possibilities.
So if I’m trying new things that I don’t like? If I’m trying black olives and spitting them out; if I’m bleaching my hair and then dying it blue the next day because blonde looks wicked stupid on me; if I’m trying karaoke and going, “Jesus fictional Christ, this sucks”?
It means I’m having an adventurous life.
And that is a pleasure all its own.