Why “Doing Things”

After college, the next step is to sort of to settle into a life. What we call real life in the real world is, you might find, no more or less real than the life you were living before.

When I graduated with a BA and got my first full-time, salaried job I found myself, to my profound surprise, with a lot of extra time on my hands. After years of class and homework and extracurriculars and practice and games and tournaments and volunteering and easy summer jobs I suddenly had a simple mandate: go to work, work, then go home. I had no dependents and the fewest obligations I had ever had. It was shocking. How to fill this unstructured time?

Doing things became my mantra. Doing things is about going places, trying stuff, learning new skills, accessing new ideas, and not worrying about whether you’re any good at any of it. It’s doing things for the pure pleasure of trying something new.

Doing things is for health – mental health, physical health, spiritual health. Doing things can lead you to new friendships. Doing things can deepen old ones. Doing things is about cultivating skills and hobbies that you may be able to do for the rest of your life. Doing things is about living even when no one is watching.

Reading is doing things.

Learning to caramelize onions is doing things.

Traveling by yourself is doing things.

Camping in Eastern Oregon until every mosquito in a 30-mile radius has bitten you is doing things.

Skating across your living room floor in slippers is doing things.

Developing a skincare routine is doing things.

Hiking is doing things.

Replaying the handshake scene from The Parent Trap over and over until you learn it is doing things.

Learning how to do yoga for free using YouTube is doing things.

Everything is doing things.

One of my first doing things hobbies was learning to shoot film. I started small with a Kodak Funsaver. Low barrier to entry, low pressure. Eventually, I bought a Pentax K1000 – a camera so beautiful and heavy they don’t even make them anymore. I learned how to load film by watching YouTube videos and read blogs about film photography to figure out the difference between aperture and shutter speed.

I love taking a photo and thinking Well, I hope that turned out! then moving on. I delight in the delayed gratification of finishing a roll of film, driving the negatives to the local Rite Aid, and waiting a week until I can see what they look like. There are surprises, good and bad, in every stack.

I’ll never win a Pulitzer or have my “collection” featured at a gallery, but I’m very proud of myself for learning to how to use my Pentax. If the apocalypse comes and everything is analog, I’ll be able to document it!

I implore you, I entreat you, and I challenge you – go out, do things!



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