There are some experiences that have really left an impact on me over the years. Some are pretty straight forward and some will take some commitment, but all of them have given me a better understanding of the world and more importantly my place in it. How many have you done, and when was the last time?!
Here’s a few, in no particular order:
- Take a bus trip to a different state. Not just downtown or to the next city over, but really get on that thing and travel. Go somewhere you’ve never been before, bonus points for an overnight trip. Savor the process of figuring out how to buy the ticket, finding the correct departure bay, and how to get comfortable sitting next to a stranger. Observe the humanity around you, and listen to the conversations.
- Go see a movie by yourself. I remember the first time I undertook this particular adventure, and it was far more nerve wracking than I expected! There was a real sense of discomfort at the perceived (imagined?) judgement of the staff. But once I settled in, man did I enjoy myself. That became a real pastime for a while once I got accustomed to the process, being able to pick up and just go whenever you want without waiting for a consensus and others to arrive.
- Go to a gun range. Regardless of your feelings about guns and gun control laws, they are real things out there in the world and millions of people own and use them. You should understand how they work, how to use them safely, and what it actually feels like to fire one. Any reputable range will require a safety course, and will have trainers ready to guide you through the whole process. There’s also a very real learning curve, and it’s quite rewarding to see your skills improve with practice.
- Learn how to drive stick. It’s likely getting harder and harder to find someone with a manual, but it’s a worthwhile ability for every person to have. I remember learning to drive on an old Accura Integra 5 speed, and you really had to get a feel for RPMs and gear-speed relationships in order to successfully drive it. Once I had that mastered, I honestly felt more confident driving every subsequent car in my life. It set a baseline understanding of how vehicles mechanically work, and the first time you successfully push start a car with a dead battery is exhilarating!
- Get certified in CPR. Although the specifics (number of compressions vs breaths, etc) have changed over time, knowing the fundamentals of how to perform CPR is a skill that you don’t want to be stuck without. In conjunction with the Heimlich maneuver, you have a real chance of being the decisive factor in an emergency situation such as choking and cardiac arrest. The medical professionals out there will (correctly) point out that CPR is far less successful than the movies would have us believe, but the latest figures show “nearly 45 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander CPR was administered.” Those are pretty good odds.
- Volunteer. Doesn’t really matter where or with who, just get out there and give some of your time. I never volunteer as much as I would like, but every time I do I wish I did more of it. Makes ya feel good.
- Play hooky. This is one that I actually haven’t done in a long time, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. If you’re in school, it’s a pretty obvious one. Just skip class one day and go off to do something else. As a worker, it’s a bit more complicated, but can still be done. You’ll need to schedule the day off (or just call in sick if it’s last minute), and then figure out what to do with your day. Maybe you go to a hotel and veg out watching movies, or (gasp) even take a nap! Go to the movies, go take a walk, read a book. Really it’s wide open, but taking some time just for yourself is always a good idea to keep your head straight.
- Get a pet. Now for sure this is a long term commitment, but if you’ve never had a dog or cat (or snake or bird, whatever!) then you really should. There is something special about the relationship you form with your pet, something different from an interpersonal relationships, and regardless of what many pet owners will have you believe, it’s completely different from having children. Assuming you actually have a good relationship with your pet, there is something completely joyful about the warm welcome when you come home. There’s nothing else like it.
Those are a few of the things that have had a big impact on me in my life, and if you haven’t tried them for yourself then I suggest you do! What would you add to the list, and why?